Participant Media has acquired all North American rights to director Diego Luna’s Chavez, currently shooting in Sonora, Mexico.

Starring Michael Peña as famed labour organiser Cesar E Chavez, the film, written by Keir Pearson, focuses on Chavez’s efforts in the sixties and seventies to organise the largest non-violent protest in US history with the goal of obtaining basic human rights for over 50,000 farm workers in California.

Co-stars are America Ferrera, Rosario Dawson, Wes Bentley, Michael Cudlitz, Gabriel Mann, Jacob Vargas, Yancey Arias and Mark Moses.

The film reunites Participant with Luna’s Mexican production company Canana Films. The companies worked together on recent Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry and Art Cinema Prize winner No.

Chavez is being produced by Canana principals Pablo Cruz, Gael Garcia Bernal (who has a cameo role in the film) and Luna (pictured), along with John Malkovich (who stars as one of Chavez’s key adversaries), Keir Pearson, Larry Meli and Mr Mudd’s Lianne Halfon and Russell Smith. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King are executive producers.

Jim Berk, Participant Media CEO, said: “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. We are thrilled to be joining Diego and his remarkable cast for what we believe will be an important and memorable film.”

“We are very pleased to be teaming with our good friends at Participant for this portrait of a man who inspired an entire community to rise up against injustice,” said Luna. “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.”

Narrative film head Jonathan King and COO Jeff Ivers handled the deal for Participant and Robert and Matt Wallerstein of Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman negotiated on behalf of Canana.