April 24, 2014

Cesar’s Last Fast to Premiere at Sundance Film Festival

 

Topanga filmmaker James Chressanthis and directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee will present Cesar’s Last Fast (cesarslastfast.com) in the Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Feature Documentary competition on January 19, in Park City, UT.

“In 1988 I was very fortunate to have filmed Cesar Chavez during his 36-day fast to bring world-wide attention to the dangers of pesticides,” said Chressanthis. “The lessons that Cesar taught us are even more relevant today, given the plight of low-wage workers everywhere and the threat to the environment, our air, our water, our food.”

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, director Richard Ray Perez weaves together the larger story of Chavez’s life, vision and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez’s moral clarity in organizing and standing with farmworkers 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.

Chressanthis returned in 2012 with Steadicam Operator James Takata and First Assistant Darin Miller to shoot additional footage of farm workers harvesting and final interviews for Perez.

“We used the Canon C300 and Canon 5D cameras that are a far cry from the plumbicon-tube Sony Betacam I shot with in 1988,” Chressanthis recalled. Major footage was shot by cinematographers Byron Shah, Stephen McCarthy, Jonathan Schell and Jon Dunham with generous support from Panavision and Canon USA. n