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Santa Monica High School to Screen Cesar Chavez Film

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By Daniel Larios
Lookout Staff

March 20, 2014 -- Four decades after Cesar Chavez led a crusade for migrant workers’ rights, the life of the Latino Civil Rights icon has made it onto the big screen, and Santa Monica will get a chance to preview the film before it hits the theaters.

On Saturday at 7 p.m., Santa Monica High School’s Barnum Hall will host a pre-screening of “Cesar Chavez,” which recently won the Film Audience Award at the South by Southwest Festival.

The screening is part of a fundraising effort for the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, the Edison Language Academy and the John Adams Middle School and  Santa Monica High School's Dual Immersion Programs.

Following the screening, the audience will have a chance to meet and participate in a question and answer session with the cast and crew of the movie, including the film's star Michael Pena and Producer Pablo Cruz.

Directed by Diego Luna (director of Abel, star of The Terminal, Y Tu Mamá También) and written by Keir Pearson (Hotel Rwanda), “Cesar Chavez” traces the labor leader’s efforts during the 1960s and 70s to organize the largest non-violent protest in U.S. history to get basic human rights for more then 50,000 farm workers in California.

Chavez co-founded of the United Farm Workers union and was instrumental in the Delano Grape Boycott, which was successful in its goal to provide living wages for laborers.  His birthday, March 31, is celebrated as a state holiday in Colorado, Texas, and California. 

Although there have been countless books, articles, and documentaries focusing on Chavez’s impact, “Cesar Chavez” is the first dramatization of the labor leader’s life.

The film – which also stars John Malkovich, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson and Gabriel Mann --
is making the rounds at various film festivals in preparation for its theatrical debut on March 28. On Wednesday, it received a rare screening at the White House, with labor leaders and legislators in attendance.

Spanish immersion programs are a form of teaching in both Spanish and English, where each language is used for at least half of the instructional day.  Students become fluent in both languages, which studies have shown benefits their grades and helps build community, according to school officials.

The Santa Monica School District's program starts off in kindergarten at the Edison Language Academy, the District's dual immersion magnet elementary school. 

Started in 1985 by a joint task force of parents, teachers and administrators, the program was designed, developed and implemented with the guidance from the of UCLA Center for Language Education and Research, according to school officials.

Since its inception, the school has won numerous awards, including a Seal of Excellence from the California Association for Bilingual Education and Title I Academic Achievement Awards from the California State Department of Education for four consecutive years, from 2006 to 2009.

“Edison is a school of choice for all students and enrolls students from other SMMUSD neighborhoods and from neighboring communities as space is available in order to create the language balance needed for a successful dual language program,” said school officials.

“Being a school of choice also gives our school a distinct character and a very high rate of participation,” officials said “All of our families have made a conscious decision to help their children develop as bilingual, multicultural learners and parent support is critical to promoting student success.”

After completing the elementary program, students are enrolled into the Dual Immersion Programs at John Adams Middle School and then Santa Monica High School.

General Admission tickets are $25 and student tickets are $15.  Tickets can be bought at  Food trucks will be available starting at 5:30 p.m.

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