Cesar's Last Fast
Sponsored by Bread and Roses Community Fund, The Food Trust, and Fair Food Philly
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, directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee weave 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.
About the Directors
Richard Ray Perez is personally connected to the issues in Cesar’s Last Fast. For 22 years, Perez’s father was a farm worker who worked under the conditions Cesar Chavez fought to end. At five years old, Perez joined the historic grape boycotting organized by the United Farm Workers. In addition to his work on Cesar’s Last Fast, Perez is a senior staffer in the Documentary Film Program at Sundance Institute.
Lorena Parlee began working on the film that became Cesar’s Last Fast in 1986 when she volunteered with the United Farm Workers. When Cesar Chavez undertook his water-only fast, Parlee was his press secretary and spokesperson. During this fast, she collected some of the most intimate and powerful footage ever shot of Cesar. Lorena Parlee died on August 18, 2006, after an extended battle with breast cancer. She was 60.