Participant Media Picks Up Diego Luna's Historical Drama 'Chavez' for North America

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Michael Pena.

Michael Pena stars as famed labor organizer Cesar E. Chavez; Luna will direct.

Participant Media has acquired all North American rights to Chavez, directed by Diego Luna and starring Michael Pena in the title role.

The deal reunites Participant with Mexico's Canana Films; the duo partnered to produce Pablo Larrian's No, which won the Art Cinema prize at the Cannes Film Festival last month. Sony Pictures Classics will release No in the U.S.

Chavez, which explores iconic union leader Cesar Chavez's determination to organize the largest nonviolent protest in U.S. history, also stars John Malkovich, America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Wes Bentley, Michael Cudlitz, Jacob Vargas, Yancey Arias and Mark Moses.

Luna is shooting the film from a script by Keir Pearson.

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"This film provides an emotional and inspiring telling of Cesar Chavez's struggle for equality, respect and dignity and is a natural fit for Participant," company CEO Jim Berk said.

Chavez producers are Canana principals Pablo Cruz and Gael Garcia Bernal -- who makes a cameo appearance in the film -- Malkovich, Mr. Mudd's Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith, Pearson and Larry Meli. Skoll and Participant's Jonathan King are executive producing.

"We believe this film will send the powerful message that change is in our hands, and Participant is the perfect partner to help this film reach a large North American audience," Luna said.

Luna's directing credits include JC Chavez, a biography of the legendary Mexican boxer Julio Casar Chavez, and Abel, his first narrative feature (he also co-wrote the script).

King and Participant COO Jeff Ivers negotiated the deal for Participant; Robert and Matt Wallerstein of Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof & Fishman negotiated on behalf of Canana.