Richard Ray Perez
Richard Ray Perez is a documentary filmmaker and director of Cesar’s Last Fast, a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Grant recipient. Perez and his team are using Kickstarter to fund the final stages of production on their project. Click here to contribute.
Yesterday I bought some pears, brought them home, and set them out to ripen on the kitchen table.
This morning, just before I started today’s work on our film, I looked at one of the pears. I realized that it’s more than just a fruit. That pear is a story.
The story starts with a seed that a farm worker planted. With water and proper attention, that seed turned into a sapling that another farm worker planted into a field. That field that grew into an orchard, a fertile forest nurtured by the hands of farm workers who care for each tree: feed it, water it, and prune the branches so it could blossom and bear beautiful fruit. At just the right time, another farm worker then picked it, careful not to bruise or damage it and along with other pears, carried it several hundred feet to a bin. That bin was transported to a packing house where another farm worker packed it. Then it was transported to the supermarket where I chose it and some other pears and brought them home to ripen on my table.
When I think of our film, Cesar’s Last Fast, of course I think of Cesar Chavez. But I also think of the hands that nurtured and delivered this pear to my table. I think of the probability that the farmworker who picked this pear lives in poverty, may face the threat of deportation, and ironically, can’t afford to eat the very fruit they pick. But the story doesn’t have to end like this.
The most exciting part of our project is that when we’re done, we are going to screen Cesar’s Last Fast for farmworkers across the nation. Since Cesar Chavez’s passing, an entire generation of farmworkers have immigrated to the U.S. Interestingly, they know little about Cesar Chavez and the historic movement he led, a movement of their predecessors. The goal of our film is to introduce Cesar Chavez’s story and his organizing model to today’s farmworkers. This project is not just a film. It’s a powerful tool to empower today’s farmworkers and workers in other low-wage industries by presenting a concrete example of how they can organize and challenge the industries that routinely exploit them. Cesar’s story is a concrete example that it can be done. “Si Se Puede” is not a trendy slogan. It’s a reality rooted in history.
You can help us bring this reality to today’s farmworkers. There are 16 days left for you to pledge. You can pledge as little as $1. So I encourage you to contribute what you can to empower the people who work hard to bring food to you and your family. Thank you.