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Dolores, The Movie

Filed Under: Featured

The long-awaited film, Dolores, recounting the dynamic life of Dolores Huerta, opens on September 1 in various Bay Area theaters. As Latinos seek inspiration to vigorously fight to protect DACA, and other reforms, Dolores couldn’t come at a better time.

Dolores Huerta, a Chicana from Stockton, California has devoted her life to serving as an activist and labor leader—fighting tirelessly on behalf of farm workers, the working poor, women, and children in the United States. An 87-year old Huerta first began working with Cesar Chavez in 1962 to launch the National Farm Workers Association. Before then, farm workers had no employments rights. Exposed to toxic pesticides and extreme temperatures, the health of farm workers often suffered, but no laws protected them. Dolores Huerta and what would later become the United Farm Workers (UFW) made history as farm workers gained basic labor rights, improved work conditions, and the right to unionize.

Working for decades as a labor leader, Huerta constantly endured uphill battles when lobbying for farm workers, including suffering beatings by the police. Legislators and businesses later tried to thwart her as she advocated for women’s rights and fought against gender discrimination. In 2002, Dolores established the Dolores Huerta Foundation, where she serves as founder and president, which works to support equality and defend the civil rights of various groups.

Despite a lifetime of achievement, leadership, and courage, Huerta is one of the least known activists in American history. To this day, her contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Recognizing the need to bring her story into the limelight, famed musician Carlos Santana was determined to do a film on the life of Dolores Huerta.

“I got a call from Carlos Santana one day,” said filmmaker Peter Bratt, director of La Mission, and co-producer, co-writer and director of Dolores. “There was an urgency to his request saying, ‘She’s still with us, one of the most important figures in our cultural history. We have to do this,’’’ said Bratt at an Essential SF Q&A session.

The documentary chronicles the life and work of Huerta focusing on “the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change” (Dolores, The Movie).  Early reviews suggest Santana was right; during its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the film received a 20-minute standing ovation.

“Like a lot of activists, [Dolores] didn’t want the focus to be on her—she wanted it to be about organizing and movement building,” said Bratt in a recent interview. Still, Bratt managed to capture the personal and poignant story of a Latina feminist advocating for social justice amidst racism and sexism, as well as the profound impact of her work.

The work and values of Dolores Huerta has special significance for IFR. Her legacy of community service is central to the fundamental values that have guided IFR. Unknown to many, Dolores was first to use with the slogan “Sí, se puede” as the rallying cry of the UFW, and is one of IFR’s founding principles. “Sí, se puede” reflects our determined spirit and resilience as individuals and as a community to overcome adversity and achieve victory.

The film opens on September 1st in theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. More screening information can be found via this link.

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