Pena’s riveting in biopic as civil rights activist

Fighting to give farm workers to get stable wages and proper working conditions, Michael Pena has an invigorating performance as civil rights activist Cesar Chavez.

“I’m angry that we live in a world where a man who picks food can’t feed his family,” actor Michael Pena said in the newly released film.

This movie showed the perseverance and sacrifices made by Chavez in his 5-year journey to sign a deal with California crop growers. A deal that would give farm workers fair wages and better working conditions. Chavez’s journey included boycotting grapes, a 25-day strike, and going to London to raise global awareness about “La Causa.”

Director Diego Luna did a great job of not trying to change the perception of Chavez into a saint, but instead it showed him through the lens of a father, brother, husband and leader. He stuck to the essence of what Chavez’s cause was about as oppose to “hollywoodfying” his story and turning a biography into an entertaining drama film.

One of the California crop growers, Bogdanovich Senior, played by actor John Malkovich, was riveting in a film that lacked depth in overall acting. He has a an interesting character in that he is Croatian immigrant. So he is torn between feeling sympathy for the migrant farm workers, but still trying to keep his farm profitable.

Chavez used different tactics on fighting against oppression with nonviolence. Chavez reflected a lot of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi due to revolts against authorities in a peaceful manner.

Pena even is maddened by the protestors after they beat up a gentleman who runs through the crowd with his car. He says to the followers of his movement, that he will not eat until they vow not to use violence as a means to respond to their opponents.

The film was released just a couple days before Cesar Chavez Day, to remember not only what he did for farm workers but the precedent he set for future union workers.

Pena will have you wanting to say, “Huelga” and “Sí, se puede” as his fellow union members once chanted as they marched and protested in front of the fields and across the state of California.

The film didn’t have as much Spanish, but it served an even larger purpose being in English because it will help give those who are oblivious to the importance of a chapter in Chicano-American history.

The cover of the film has a quote that explains the journey of fighting for a cause and how it doesn’t happen over night.

“History is made one step at a time,” Pena said.