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Arts and Culture

Cesar Chavez: The Story of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

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Posted on Mar 26, 2014

By Emily Wilson

(Page 2)

EW: When you went to his family how did they react and what did they definitely want you to have in the movie?

DL: The thing is I wouldn’t be doing this film if I had no support from his family. It was after they agreed we started working on the film. We sat down with Paul Chavez, the youngest son who runs a foundation, and he was our connection with the family. I needed his family to be part of this because this is not a history lesson. This needs to work as a film and be entertaining and engaging with the audience and to bring that out, you need all the information that is not in books, that is not in recordings, the little intimate colors you need on film. For that I needed the family, and the most important person was Helen Chavez. Helen was supposed to come and just say hi and give us her blessing, but she arrived and stayed for two and a half hours and started talking and talking to the point I had to go back and rewrite because she gave me a lot of information that changed the perspective and point of view I was telling the story from.

EW: Like what?

DL: The most important was the father/son relationship. She told me about Fernando [the eldest son] leaving and how painful that was. I could tell because she was suddenly very affected, and I thought, “Well, that needs to be in the film.” Also I’m a father so I connected with that, and that to me matters. I went back and rethought a little the story.

EW: What are you most hoping people take away or get out of the movie?

DL: Many things, but I guess the most important—there are two. I really want people to get out of the cinema feeling they can do something. As Cesar said many times, this is the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. You don’t need special powers and a cape to bring change—you just need to be clear about what you want, and never lose the curiosity to see who around thinks like you do. And if they don’t, why? It’s about never losing that curiosity and never letting that difference rule your life.

Another thing—if people get out of the cinema thinking what needs to happen for their food to get in front of them, I’ll be happy because that’s what we are talking about here. That’s what the boycott did. It was parents talking to parents, mothers talking to mothers and saying, “Behind that grape is the work of my son.” So if at the end of the film, you come out wondering what needs to happen for that carrot to get in front of me, we’ve done our work.

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