‘A Song for Cesar,’ a documentary about Latino leader César Chávez, releases soon
The special production on the civil rights leader hits PBS screens at the end of the month.
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As a special presentation of 'American Masters' and Latino Public Broadcasting's VOCES, the documentary by Abel Sánchez and Andrés Alegría presents a unique insight into the life and legacy of César Chávez and the farmworkers movement.
The production highlights that 'A Song for Cesar' is a never-before-told story about the musicians and artists — including Joan Baez, Maya Angelou, and Carlos Santana, among others — who dedicated their time, creativity and even reputation to peacefully advance the movement of Chávez in search of equality and justice for the long-suffering farmworkers of the United States.
The documentary will premiere nationally on Friday, Sep. 29 on PBS at 10 p.m. ET (check local listings), on PBS.org and the PBS app.
The American Masters series shares the stories of political “thought leaders” with seven new documentaries on PBS.
As the U.S. enters a new election cycle, examine the lives and legacies of political changemakers Floyd Abrams, Bella Abzug, Jerry Brown, Max Roach, William F. Buckley Jr., Cesar Chavez and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Other films under the 'Thought Leaders' banner include:
- Bella! This Woman’s Place is in the House
- Jerry Brown: The Disrupter
- Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely
- Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes
- Buckley (w.t.)
“Political discourse in the United States is shaped by audacious ideas of what a society should be. But who are the influencers and disruptors of American political thought that have paved the way for the systems that we currently have—and those still to come? Beginning in September 2023, American Masters seeks to answer this question with Thought Leaders, a collection of documentaries spotlighting key figures in American politics, law and music,” highlights the production.
‘A Song for Cesar’
The documentary also explores other facets of Chávez's life, from childhood to his last days, revelations that, until now, have not been shared on screen.
The film features musical performances and interviews with actors, musicians, activists, and writers, including Dolores Huerta, Edward James Olmos, Graham Nash, Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Cheech Marin, Taj Mahal, playwright Luis Valdez, and more.
The documentary invites the viewer to learn how music and the arts were critical to the success of the farmworker movement that Chávez helped found.
“’How did we get here?’ is a question we are all asking ourselves these days, and it is a complicated one. By examining the origins and accomplishments of these thought leaders who share such different perspectives, American Masters aims to add crucial context and nuance to what we’re seeing in today’s political arena,” pointed out Michael Kantor, executive producer of American Masters.
About César Chávez
He was a union leader and civil rights activist who co-founded with Dolores Huerta the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union.
The Chávez family became immigrant workers after their parents lost their farm during the Great Depression and lived in a succession of immigrant camps. Witnessing firsthand the mistreatment of migrant workers inspired Chávez to create the farmworkers union.
Music and the arts were central to the success of the social movement Chávez helped found. In the 1960s and 1970s, Chávez and peasant activists formed an alliance with musicians and artists to help build a movement called "La Causa."
The enthusiastic response of musicians and artists to fundraisers for the Farm Workers Union, the rise of Chicano art in the fields of Delano, California, the role of theater in struggle, nonviolent action, and the response to violence with art helped form the legacy of a movement that seamlessly united social struggle and culture.
Produced by Latino Public Broadcasting, the acclaimed PBS documentary series VOCES presents the best of Latino arts, culture and history and sheds light on current issues impacting Latin Americans.
Dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of the Latino experience, VOCES features new and established filmmakers and brings their powerful and illuminating stories to a national audience, on television, online and on the PBS app.