I recall when this was first announced 2 years ago, in 2010, when it was made public that life rights to make a biopic about civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez had been optioned, with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna’s Mexico-based Canana Films, producing the film.
The rights were previously controlled and now granted by the Cesar Chavez Foundation; negotiations were handled by Chavez’s son, Paul.
I just learned that the film has been cast, and is currently shooting in Sonora, Mexico.
Michael Pena is playing Chavez in a project that co-stars John Malkovich, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Wes Bentley, Michael Cudlitz and Gabriel Mann.
Diego Luna is directing by the way, from a script penned by Keir Pearson, who was nominated for an original screenplay Oscar in 2005 for co-writing Hotel Rwanda.
And announced today, Participant Media has acquired North American distribution rights to the project.
From the 1950s through 1993, when he died, Chavez worked as a community organizer and fought for improved working conditions for California farm workers. He co-founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers union.
Chavez’s birthday, March 31, is celebrated as a state holiday in several states, including California and Texas, and he was awarded the U.S. Medal of Freedom posthumously in 1994.
In 2006, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted him into the state’s hall of fame.
Producer Gael Garcia Bernal has a cameo role in the film, which is also co-produced by John Malkovich and his Mr. Mudd production company.