SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — The film is called “Singing Our Way to Freedom.” It chronicles the life and music of Chicano musician Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez, who traveled extensively with Cesar Chavez in the 60s and 70s.
Sanchez was known to join picket lines in the California fields with Chavez, using his musical ability to promote social change and better working and living conditions for farmworkers across the southwest.
“We went in there and did two or three songs and everybody was ready to go out and challenge the world,” Chunky says in the film. “It was powerful, it was penetrating to the soul.”
Espinosa did a lengthy interview with Sanchez which formed the spine of the film.
“Chunky Sanchez was a very charismatic musician and storyteller, he was very involved with Cesar Chavez,” said Espinosa. “He was Chavez’s favorite musician, he really connected with Chavez, especially the kind of messaging Chavez was doing about the working and living conditions of farmworkers all over the country.”
According to Espinosa, Sanchez performed at demonstrations and rallies for over 40 years at schools, prisons, political events, quinceañeras and weddings.
“Chunky came to San Diego to attend San Diego State University and when he got here, he got involved with a musical group called La Rondalla Amerindia De Aztlán and they went to rallies and demonstrations all over the state, all over the Southwest, basically playing for the farmworkers to kind of inspire the workers to get involved with the union.”
Espinosa’s film about Sanchez has already won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Diego Latino Film Festival and was an Official Selection at multiple festivals including the Guadalajara International Film Festival, the Smithsonian Folk-like Festival and festivals in Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Kansas City.
Espinosa is a longtime filmmaker for PBS whose films have won eight Emmys and is responsible for the highly-acclaimed The Lemon Grove Incident … and the earth did not swallow him.
He also produced The Hunt for Pancho Villa, The U.S.-Mexican War: 1846-1848, Ballad of an Unsung Hero.
Espinosa’s latest work, the film about Sanchez, is airing on PBS stations throughout the United States.
It will make its San Diego debut on November 3 at 9 p.m.
Sanchez died in 2016.