It was a rainy Los Angeles night in the middle of the week, yet an overflow crowd flocked to the Hammer Museum for the Sundance DFP Work-In-Progress screening and panel discussion of the documentary film Cesar's Last Fast. More than 325 people attended, comprising an incredibly diverse crowd across every category, and even spilling onto the Hammer Terrace to watch on simulcast! The event brought together Chicano Studies students, filmmakers, film lovers, labor leaders, faith leaders, union members and Sundance Institute supporters of all stripes for an engaging evening of cinema, creative process, conversation, and finally, cocktails (actually a reception featuring union wine, but who wants to mess with alliteration?).
The 50 minutes of material shown was powerful, and featured footage of Chavez and his family that had never been seen before, and left many in the audience in tears who had worked with Chavez and the movement. Director Richard Ray Perez moderated the panel, featuring natural storytellers Edward James Olmos and Paul Chavez (Cesar's son), and spirited champions for the humanity of workers Arturo Rodriguez (United Farm Workers) and Maria Elena Durazo (AFL-CIO).
The filmmakers, Richard Ray Perez and Molly O'Brien, have expressed their excitement for the love that Sundance and the audience shined down on their film, on the story of Cesar Chavez, and what his legacy means to those working for better treatment of farm workers today. Cara Mertes , Director of Sundance Documentary Film Program, introduced the evening and highlighted the need to create repeated opportunities to create and hear stories about the search for justice. As she intoned to applause from the crowd a quote from Cornel West, "Justice is what love looks like in public," the filmmakers, panelists, and the audience lovingly joined forces for a new avenue toward justice. Si, Se Puede!