The newly launched UA Center for Documentary has partnered on a new public film series, beginning with a film about Cesar Chavez that uncovers an overlooked chapter in the story of civil rights in America. (Photo: Robin Becker)
The newly launched UA Center for Documentary has partnered on a new public film series, beginning with a film about Cesar Chavez that uncovers an overlooked chapter in the story of civil rights in America. (Photo: Robin Becker)

UA Launches Documentary Film Center and Public Series

With the debut of the Center for Documentary, a new documentary film series, DocScapes, also has been established.
Feb. 16, 2015
What: 
DocScapes screening of "Cesar's Last Fast"
When: 
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m.
Where: 
The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St.
Culled from hundreds of hours of footage, rarely heard interviews of Cesar Chavez himself, as well as testimonies of the people closest to him, "Cesar's Last Fast" illuminates the story of one man's commitment and dedication to social justice.
Culled from hundreds of hours of footage, rarely heard interviews of Cesar Chavez himself, as well as testimonies of the people closest to him, "Cesar's Last Fast" illuminates the story of one man's commitment and dedication to social justice.
Richard Ray Perez (Photo: Martin Cox)
Richard Ray Perez (Photo: Martin Cox)

In response to the proliferation of storytelling via digital formats, the University of Arizona has launched the Center for Documentary to train students in a range of disciplines how to produce interactive, Web-based new media projects.

Led by Beverly Seckinger, a professor in the UA School of Theatre Film & Television, the new center is entering a pilot phase with support from the UA Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry

"Our project seeks to formalize existing alliances and collaborations across programs, disciplines and colleges, and synergize resources and expertise already available on campus," said Seckinger, director of the UA's Center for Documentary.

The center will support students in a range of programs, including anthropology, journalism, history and ethnomusicology, to provide them with professional training in film production.

"The center will spark interdisciplinary dialogue and training, teaching students and faculty to innovate within and across their disciplines by finding new and effective ways to present their research and data through visual media and communicate to new audiences," Seckinger said, adding that the center will partner with various campus units and community-based organizations.

One of the center's first projects is DocScapes, a new public film series being launched in partnership with the UA Hanson Film Institute.

The film series will debut Tuesday with the screening of "Cesar's Last Fast," produced and directed by Richard Ray Perez. The film will be presented at 6:30 p.m. at the Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St., followed by a question-and-answer session with Perez. General admission is $5 (free for UA students with a CatCard). Tickets are available online.

The film presents never-before-seen footage of Cesar Chavez's 36-day fast in 1988. It also explores the historic events that defined the life mission of America's most inspiring contemporary Hispanic leader, and the struggles confronting today's farm workers.

Perez is personally connected to the issues presented in the film. 

For 22 years, his father was a farm worker who lived in and worked under the conditions Chavez fought to end. At age 5, Perez joined the historic grape boycott organized by the United Farm Workers.

Prior to "Cesar's Last Fast," Perez served as director and/or executive producer on four documentary film series for Brave New Films. He is the producer of creative partnerships in the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program.

"I am delighted to work with Beverly Seckinger on the outreach component of the Center for Documentary, the new public screening series DocScapes," said Vicky Westover, director of the Hanson Film Institute.

"We look forward to presenting exceptional documentary films and filmmakers to Tucson audiences." 

The UA Hanson Film Institute produces educational programs, public events and creative projects that provide educational and professional development opportunities for students, faculty and filmmakers. The institute contributes to the UA's land-grant mission by producing events and films that address societal issues.

In addition to DocScapes, the Center for Documentary also will present professional workshops for faculty and graduate students, and it is working toward establishing an interdisciplinary graduate minor.  In conjunction with the public screening of "Cesar’s Last Fast," Perez will present a workshop for graduate students on working with historians and film archives.

While serving both the campus and the community at large, Seckinger said, the center will "present public programming that enhances community engagement and public discourse about UA research and engage documentary film theory and criticism alongside discussion of film content and topical issues."

Amanda Ballard, La Monica Everett-Haynes, Beverly Seckinger and Vicky Westover contributed to this article.