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Walking side by side with Cesar Chavez, Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez energized the Chicano/a civil rights movement with his songs. Through his music, you can relive the spirit of this historic moment. Through his story, you can see a new generation inspired about the power of collective action.
We have shot the film. We have edited a rough cut. We are so close to the finish line. All that stands in our way is paying for some final expenses. With your support, Chunky’s story will be told. Whether you give $25, $75 or $300, your support right now will truly make a difference.
Please, make your contribution now.
I’ve known Chunky for the last 35 years. I've seen him stand up for people's rights over and over again. His music has been an inspiring part of many of my films including “The Lemon Grove Incident” about one of our nation’s earliest legal battles for desegregation. Chunky always says, “To me Chicano is not necessarily someone that was born in a certain place, but rather a state of mind and a state of heart.”
Despite the major transformations of the Chicano/a Civil Rights movement, much of that history is scarcely known today, particularly the contributions made by young Chicanos/as. A portrait of one charismatic musician and activist allows us to revisit this pivotal era of American history and to provoke dialogue about the many hurdles that still need to be overcome to gain equal rights for all. That’s why I am asking for your help to finish our film and tell Chunky's story.
What is truly inspiring about Chunky is that, in the face of so many injustices, he always remains positive. He has given generations of activists the feeling that change is possible, that many long hours dedicated to protesting, marching and speaking out really do make a difference. This timeless message deserves to be shared with future generations. With your support, we can make that happen.
Chunky draws from a variety of cultural traditions reflecting his own unique place in border culture. His music, recently included in a classic Smithsonian Folkways collection highlighting songs of the Chicano/a movement, was described as “an original and necessary document of essential American musical history.”
Through Chunky’s songs, our film delves into Chicano/a culture and identity, demonstrating what a powerful tool music can be in telling untold stories and in inspiring young people.
SINGING MY WAY TO FREEDOM chronicles Chunky’s life from his humble beginnings as a farmworker in Blythe, California to his student days at San Diego State University where he joined La Rondalla Amerindia founded by Pepe Villarino as the Chicano Civil Rights Movement was transforming the community; from performing on Joan Baez’s first Spanish language album to headlining the San Diego immigration marches of 2006; from an iconic photo of him crossing the border fence in Tijuana with his musical group, Los Alacranes, to receiving the National Heritage Fellowship at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.
Our story examines how Chunky’s inspiring work as a musician and activist is interwoven with the broader history of the Chicano/a movement. Help us tell his story now!
In our first Kickstarter campaign, we raised $13,000 to begin production. This allowed us to match another major financial contribution from the Leichtag Family Foundation of Carlsbad, California. Since then, we have been successful in raising additional support from many organizations including the National Association for Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) Fund for the Arts, the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the Arizona Community Foundation, and the Raza Development Fund in Phoenix, Arizona.
With that support and the individual contributions of many, many folks, we completed filming and began editing. We tracked down and recorded quality interviews with over 40 individuals from throughout Chunky’s life, crafted the story, and edited a 75 minute rough cut. The end is nearly in sight. But in order to get there, it is critical that we get past one final hurdle. There are some hard costs that we just can’t avoid. Your support right now is critical to completing Chunky’s story. Here’s how we will use the funds we raise.
Paul Espinosa is the film’s Producer, Director and Writer. He has known Chunky for over 35 years and has used Chunky's music in his films. He is an award-winning San Diego filmmaker and Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University who has been involved with producing films and documentaries for PBS for over 35 years. He has had over 15 national broadcasts on PBS (The Lemon Grove Incident, ...and the earth did not swallow him, The Hunt for Pancho Villa, The U.S.-Mexican War) and his films have won eight Emmys and five CINE Golden Eagles with screenings around the country and throughout the world. You can learn more about his work at EspinosaProductions.com.
Producers: Mark Day is an Emmy award-winning producer whose films include The San Patricios, Stepan Chemical and River of Broken Promises. Michael Bovee has produced and edited many films for PBS including Liquid Stage: The Lure of Surfing and The Border.
Cinematographers: Vicente Franco (The Most Dangerous Man In America, Botany of Desire, Freedom on my Mind and The Fight in the Fields), Simone Hogan (Test the West!)
Editor: Maria Zeiss (The Price of Renewal, Remaking American Medicine)
Advisors: Dr. Luis Alvarez, University of California, San Diego; Dr. Estevan Azcona, University of Houston; Dr. Richard Griswold del Castillo, San Diego State University; Dr. Jorge Mariscal, University of California, San Diego; Dr. Rita Sanchez, San Diego Mesa College; Dr. Michelle Tellez, University of Arizona; Jose "Pepe" Villarino, San Diego State University
Risks and challenges
Producing independent films is a complex and demanding process. Raising funds for documentary films has only become more challenging over time. Our team has been involved in filmmaking for over 35 years, so we understand the many obstacles that have to be overcome. We’ve had over 15 national broadcasts of our films on PBS and hundreds of screenings of our films at venues across the U.S. and the world. For this film, we’ve been able to identify and conduct interviews with all of the key individuals connected to Chunky’s life story. We’ve also been able to acquire many wonderful archival photos, footage and music and we’ve worked closely with a knowledgeable group of scholars with expertise on our subject. We are confident that Chunky’s story will appeal to many audiences of diverse backgrounds and we are determined to share our film with as many people as possible.
Most of our rewards will be delivered no later than two months after our goal has been met. We expect the final film will be completed by mid 2017, so we anticipate that any reward involving the final film will be delivered by Fall 2017 at the latest. If you have any concerns or suggestions about our project, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will answer you promptly. Every backer of our project is extremely important to us. Our heartfelt thanks for all the support you’ve given us over many years.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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