LOS ALTOS, CA (April 5, 2022) – A man, a song and a poet inspired the making of the documentary “A Song for Cesar,” a tribute to Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement he created. The film explores his life from early childhood to his final days, and highlights the musicians and artists—including Joan Baez, Maya Angelou and Carlos Santana—who dedicated their creativity and reputations to peacefully advance Chavez’s legacy. Bringing the film to the South Bay, Hidden Villa, Foothill College and Los Altos History Museum are sponsoring a free showing of “A Song for Cesar” at the Smithwick Theatre on Friday, April 29 at 6pm, followed by a half-hour panel discussion at 7:30pm.
In 2004, guitarists and songwriters Abel Sanchez and Jorge Santana wrote the lyrics and music to “Song for Cesar” and set it to a short video infused with images of musicians and artists working side-by-side with Chavez to give voice to struggling farmworkers. When they shared the project with Maya Angelou, the esteemed poet encouraged them to share it with the world by way of a documentary to educate generations about Cesar’s legacy of perseverance and peaceful protest in changing the world for the better.
“Cesar Chavez saw himself as a labor leader, fighting for the rights of farmworkers. But it is his impact on the life changes of all Latinos that makes him the important historical figure he is today,” said Lynn Rivas, associate director at Hidden Villa. In 1965, Frank and Josephine Duveneck, founders of the 1600-acre farm and wilderness preserve, supported Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in organizing the National Farm Workers Movement, which later became the United Farm Workers. “When I learned of the connection between Hidden Villa and Cesar Chavez, and the relationship he had with Josephine and Frank Duveneck, it brought tears to my eyes.”
Lynn Rivas is one of the panelists who will discuss the film and answer questions from the audience. Andres Alegria and Abel Sánchez, the co-producers and directors of “A Song for Cesar,” will also appear on the panel, along with a representative from the Cesar Chavez Foundation.
“The Farmworkers Movement of the 60s and 70s sparked a huge cultural blossoming,” said Andres Alegria. “Abel and I had been witnesses to this history and as cultural workers, once the inspiration hit us, we had to make this film.” Alegria knew that art inspired movements, and people had used music and art to illuminate aspects of their lives, including social realities such as poverty and violence.
He said, “As people today, especially young people, join movements to make our lives safer and more fulfilling and our world a fairer and better place, they can benefit from the fundamental lesson of this film, ‘Beware of a movement that sings.’”
The themes of equality, community education, and intercultural connections are central to the missions of all three organizations sponsoring the event.
- Hidden Villa promotes a sustainable and just future for all through fostering educational experiences that build connections and inspire a deeper appreciation and respect for nature, food and one another.
- Foothill College is guided by core values of excellence, inclusion, and sustainability, believing a well-educated population is essential to sustaining and enhancing a democratic society.
- Los Altos History Museum is committed to preserving the area’s diverse past and present, and telling compelling stories through educational programs and exhibits. Cesar Chavez’s movement and the Duvenecks are among the multitude of stories featured in the Museum’s new Permanent Exhibition slated to open in early 2023.
“I was forever transformed after working with Cesar,” said Rivas, who was part of Chavez’s public relations and road management team. “I look forward to watching “A Song for Cesar” and listening and sharing stories from those times. As those of us who were present grow older, it’s important to share these stories to inspire and remind us that one person can truly make a difference.”
Registration is required at hiddenvilla.org/songforcesar. Deadline to reserve a seat is April 27. Foothill College’s COVID-19 protocols will be in effect, and currently require that attendees remain masked throughout live and recorded performances.
For additional details visit losaltoshistory.org/songforcesar.