Published February 17, 2014
The producer of the biopic about labor union activist Cesar Chavez said the allegations made against the film concerning union-busting hiring practices are incorrect.
Pablo Cruz of Canana Films, the Mexican production company who produced the film “Cesar Chavez” denied the recent claims made by critic Chamba Sanchez on Facebook that they “fired unionized workers and outsourced part or the entire production to Mexico.”
Cruz, who recently returned from the Berlin Film Festival, told Fox News Latino the producers of the biopic used union workers, adding that no country in the world “would allow them to make a film that does not have union workers.”
He said there are big names – Diego Luna, America Ferrera, John Malkovich, Rosario Dawson – carrying the movie and not having union actors and workers was out of the question. All actors were members of the SAG-AFTRA union or a Mexican labor union.
“It was the most ridiculous (accusation),” he said. “Making up a story like that makes no sense.”
Cruz added that they were also forced to pay additional fees to the Mexican union for American actors who were part of the flim.
As to the claim the movie’s production was outsourced to Mexico, Cruz said his company, Canana, is a Mexican company, although it has an office in Los Angeles.
“It was normal for us to shoot in Mexico,” he said, adding the finances for the film also came from Mexican investors. “It’s always been a Mexican film.”
Pantelion Films, the first major Latino-focused Hollywood studio launched in 2010 in partnership with Mexico’s Grupo Televisa, is distributing the film in North America.
“Cesar Chavez” was filmed in Sonora, Mexico. The location was was chosen because it still looks like the 1960s California's San Joaquin Valley in the 1960s where Chavez cut his teeth as a budding labor rights organizers, Cruz said.
He said they also chose Sonora because the agricultural practices are modeled similarly to those in California decades ago.
“Mexico is a place where technology is not as sharp,” Cruz said. “It’s still simple life, wooden, primitive.”
Another reason production took place in Mexico were the grapes themselves, he added. The only time Malkovich and lead actor Michael Peña could film were during months when grapes were not ripe enough in California, but were in perfect condition in Sonora.
Cruz, who said he and his team wanted to make a story about hero in the Latino community, also denied a Facebook comment by Marta Escutia, a former California state senator, regarding the alleged limited involvement with Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) with Chavez.
"Dolores came to a screening and at the end she stood up and started organizing the audience to say 'Si Se Puede,'" Cruz said. "It was unreal."