GRAPE EXPECTATIONS: Mexican actor-producer-director Diego Luna and friends celebrated in Berlin’s Soho House on Wednesday night, following the world premier of Luna’s biopic of Cesar Chavez, screening in the Berlinale Special section, out of competition. The film, which Luna co-produced and directed, is called simply “Cesar Chavez,” and dramatizes the Mexican-American’s labor organizer and activist’s campaign for better rights and fair wages for farm workers in California, which culminated in countrywide sympathies and a grape boycott. Michael Peña plays Chavez, and America Ferrera portrays his wife Helen, who fought alongside him. Alternately grinning and grim, John Malkovich is an onscreen bad guy, playing one of the farm owners resisting change, sometimes with violence. Rosario Dawson and Wes Bentley round out the cast as fellow activists for the cause. Luna, Peña, Ferrera, producer Pablo Cruz, and the Mexican Ambassador to Germany were among the celebrating guests on hand after the gala screening; along with spirited dancing, toasts were made with the evening’s special cocktail, an Old Fashioned made with Mezcal San Cosme, the party’s host. Stepping out of the raucous room for a quiet chat with WWD, Luna said that unlike in Chavez’s day, tools like social media and technology should help set the stage for change, but it just isn’t that clearcut. “There’s something cooking — we just don’t know how fast it will happen. And if there’s any Cesar Chavez around, we just don’t know. There’s a need for many Cesar Chavezes all around the world, not just in the world of farm workers,” explained Luna. Luna said one of his hopes is that the film brings attention to the issue of immigration reform in the US, and also to some of the country¹s many unrepresented communities. “Film is a way to get all these questions out. To bring a reflection to an audience that you think is important,” he insisted. “I do think film is a tool of change, and it’s happening everywhere.”

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