The expansion of a partnership between Palm Springs Unified and the American Documentary Film Festival (AmDocs) means hundreds of valley high school students will not only have the opportunity to see a new documentary about civil rights activist Cesar Chavez but also to interact with the filmmaker, Chavez’ grandson.

Valley High School Students View Chavez Documentary

CCHS Principal Guillermo Chavez giving film introduction and welcome.

Hailing Cesar, directed by Eduardo Chavez, is one of the several films being presented to PSUSD high school students this week thanks to the collaborative work of AmDocs Founder and Director Ted Grouya and PSUSD Arts Coordinator Louisa Castrodale. Chavez has been joining Grouya and Castrodale at the various showings this week for PSUSD high schools as well as Coachella Valley and Palm Desert High


“We call the overall program (for high school students) the Cultural Capital Film Series,” said Castrodale, “because we are intent on bringing films to students that have meaning and impact on their lives, while raising their awareness of culture and the arts. During the four days that our high schools are attending a special screening event, they are seeing films that have impact for them, based on relevant topics such as immigration, mental health, the arts and environmental sustainability.”

Eduardo Chavez, born in 1991, writes that the documentary is “a film about my journey to understand the legacy and struggle of my grandfather. I was only three years old when Cesar passed away. Growing up comfortably in the bay area, where my father Fernando was a lawyer, I had difficulty connecting with my grandfather’s life.

Valley High School Students View Chavez Documentary

Filmmakers hold Q&A with students after film. Director Eduardo Chavez is second from right.

“After a turning point in my life, I began to explore the places, learn about the people and carry out the activities that were so important to Cesar,” he continued. “My journey included working in the fields, picking grapes, as both my grandfather and father once did. My goal is to share Cesar’s message with a new generation. This film is my step in honoring his legacy.”

“We felt so strongly that the film about Cesar Chavez’s life needed to be shared with as many students as possible,” said Castrodale. “For that reason, we put that film on a tour into all four PSUSD high schools, as well as bringing it to Palm Desert and Coachella Valley High Schools.”


Lead photo caption:  CCHS’ Ballet Folkloricio performs for CCHS students prior to “Hailing Cesar” showing.