Reviews and Festivals
"Abel Sanchez and Jorge Santana have added music to a story of Cesar Chavez, and it's really a song for Cesar. The piece is so moving that I can't wait for it to be in the clear possession of everybody, Black and White, Latino and Asian, Native American, all of us we should have it."
— Maya Angelou
"This ear-friendly presentation honors the facts while saluting Chavez's love of jazz."
— School Library Journal
"An interesting look into an influential man's early and home life. Cesar's personal love for art, music, and dance is showcased through the actions and organizations he helped to create and those who were inspired by his words and actions... A Song for Cesar is very good and highly recommended. A Song for Cesar would be at home on a number of library shelves, including Biography, Labor, Music, and 60s/70s culture."
— Video Librarian
"HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. The underlying message of the film is about the importance of organizing to effect change, with an emphasis on how music and the arts in general can support those efforts. Many different audiences could benefit from this film in a collection. For academic libraries, this has particular utility to historians (especially those focused on music) and music programs. For public libraries, this film has the potential to be of great interest to anyone involved in the labor movement, or for musicians looking for inspiration for how to use their talents for activism."
— Educational Media Reviews Online
"STARRED REVIEW. Andres Alegria and Abel Sanchez's film is a much-needed history lesson that focuses on the ways Chavez inspiried artists and musicians to create their own brand of protest. To witness the genuine love and admiration for Chavez by such a wide range of people is truly inspirational. Blending social activism, art, and music, this film is a rousing tribute to a remarkable man."
— Library Journal
"Reveals the beating heart of culture-driven activism...The kind of labor of love that brings recent history into colorful and tuneful focus. And with condition for farmworkers these days hardly tolerable still, maybe this movie can be absorbed as a song "from" Cesar too."
— Los Angeles Times
"Entertains, inspires, challenges but also opens the viewer so Cesar Chavez's life, courage and wisdom can be absorbed into oneself. This cinema magic comes from the musical storytelling that Sanchez and Alegria present with gusto, sensitivity, love and power. This is Chicano history expanded to show the inclusiveness of black, Filipinos, whites, indigenous and Mexican folks, musical styles, labor sharing and an insatiable hunger for dignity and justice...There is so much human caring in the face of human cruelty, in this film...Watch this film, teach it and you may experience Cesar Chavez come right into the room singing, 'Set Me Free'."
— David Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin American Divinity School and Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
"A unique and stimulating view of the life and legacy of American labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and the farmworker movement."
— Ruth Somalo, DOC NYC
"This affectionate documentary hits many inspiring notes, expressing the emotion that flourished artistically during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s."
— Kiko Martinez, Mill Valley Film Festival
"A celebration of the organizers, musicians and artists comprising Cesar Chavez's Farmworkers movement...Tells a previously untold story about the musicians and artists who dedicated their time, creativity and reputations to peacefully advance Chavez's movement of labor organizing in pursuit of better wages and working conditions for farmworkers. Also explores other facets of Chavez's life — from childhood to his final days — revelations that, until now, have not been shared on screen."
"Fills in a unique angle in the tapestry of Chicano history...Both sprawling and focused, this documetnary tracks the many musicians and artists who supported Cesar Chavez's fight for social justice"
— The Wrap
"A well-rounded look into the life of activist/labor leader Cesar Chavez, relating how this groundbreaking drives for farmworkers' rights inspired music, art and theater pieces. The stirring documentary is stuffed with vintage archival photos and features memorable commentary from dozens, including Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Dolores Huerta and countless others."
— The Mercury News
"Pumps up the music behind Chicano power...Film uses plentiful archival footage and interviews with leading fellow activists... Emphasizing [cultural renaissance] is what distinguishes Song for Cesar from numerous prior docs on this general history, as it throws a spotlight on related developments in visual arts, theater, and particularly music"
— 48 Hills
"Teaches and inspires with a head-bobbing, toe-tapping beat. It is a remarkable remembrance of a man and movement."
"Stories like these humanize Chavez and make the film less an exercise in stilted history and more of an entertaining historical narrative with a musical heartbeat"
— Film Threat
"A rich documentary on the role of music and the arts in the critical years of Cesar Chavez's United Farm Worker movement - so rich that it's much more than that. There's a time capsule of the turbulent 1960s, the story of emerging Chicano identity and a meditation on the role of arts in political activism - all embedded in a compelling history lesson"
— The Movie Gourmet
"Takes a musical approach to [Cesar Chavez's] life...Includes revealing interviews with several heavyweights - fellow activist Dolores Huerta, Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Maya Angelou - and culminates with a studio performance of the title song"
— Plaza Classic Film Festival
Mill Valley Film Festival