Friday, January 24, 2014

Cesar's Last Fast (2014)

Directors: Lorena Parlee, Richard Ray Perez

Composer: Ed Barguiarena

Starring: Cesar Chavez

More info: IMDb

Plot: In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his “Fast for Life,” a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities. Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee weave together the larger story of Chavez’s life, vision, and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez’s moral clarity in organizing and standing with farm workers at risk of his own life humbled his family, friends, and the world. Cesar’s Last Fast is a moving and definitive portrait of the leader of a people who became an American icon of struggle and freedom.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Sundance Film Festival 2014

What is the goal of this film?  If it is to educate, it succeeds. I learned an awful lot about this man I had only heard of.  I drove down the street named after him in San Francisco many times.  Anything else was lost on me.  We get modern interviews with Martin Sheen, Chavez's son and many of the people who worked with him, and every one of them is passionate about the man and his work.  I respect that.  Now maybe it's me but the film felt designed (music, visuals, withholding information (for a few minutes) to make a particular moment more powerful) to illicit the biggest emotional impact possible.  It's a highly emotional subject, I know, but I couldn't help but feel like the film makers were over doing it on the tugging on the heart strings scale.  That said, I still enjoyed the film and agree with what Chavez was trying to accomplish but it seemed tacky to see Martin Sheen sitting on a stool watching a TV on a table that's showing the moment when Chavez ate the first piece of food, ending his 36 day fast and then watching Sheen lose it and burst into tears.  It's that kind of tactics that I find distasteful. If it had been Sheen being interviewed and then suddenly turn to his emotions, that would be more acceptable.  I don't know, it's a good film but that one thing got to me in a negative way.  I guess when you're fed a highly emotional film for nearly two hours it can get to you sooner than you think.

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