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Four Reasons 2014 Will Be the Year of the Immigrant on Film (VIDEO)

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by Matt Brennan
January 27, 2014 1:24 PM
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Michael Pena in 'Cesar Chavez'

3. One of the year's most anticipated biopics has everything to do with immigration, whether the film's backers like it or not.

Executives for Participant Media, set to release "Cesar Chavez: An American Hero" (starring Michael Pena) on March 28, may consider immigration policy "apart from" the film's narrative, which follows the Arizona-born labor icon's leadership of the 1965 Delano, California farm workers' strike and the national grape boycott that accompanied it. (Richard Ray Perez's documentary about Chavez's spiritual devotion to the cause, "Cesar's Last Fast," screened at Sundance.)

But "Y Tu Mama Tambien" heartthrob Diego Luna's drama is not only a transnational production, funded in part by Luna, Pablo Cruz, and Gael Garcia Bernal's Mexico City-based Canana Films and shot on location in the Mexican state of Sonora. It's also the most visible film yet to depict the United Farm Workers, a union that counted numerous Mexican and Filipino immigrants and first-generation Americans among its rank-and-file. Whether the film engages the complications of Chavez's own changing views on unauthorized immigrants and guest workers or hews to the traditional biopic's more straightforward arc remains to be seen. Either way, "Cesar Chavez: An American Hero" promises, in the current political climate, to provoke debate.

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