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You’ve got two more chances to see “Dolores,” a poignant documentary about civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, at the Milwaukee Film Festival this year.

Dolores Huerta may be the most influential labor leader you’ve never heard of. Now 87, the California-born Chicana activist has been fighting for farm workers’ rights for 60 years.

In 1962, she co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with César Chávez. In 1965, she spearheaded a grape boycott so successful she convinced every major farm in California to sign union contracts. In 2012, Barack Obama awarded her a Presidential Medal of Freedom – and thanked her for popularizing “sí se pueda” (“yes we can”) as a rallying cry.

Yet Huerta is rarely mentioned in history books or media outlets. And many of the friends and family members closest to her believe that that’s largely because her male compatriots took credit (consciously or otherwise) for her contributions.

Fortunately, director Peter Bratt decided to make Huerta the subject of a 95-minute documentary that pays tribute to the feminist firebrand’s life and work. Dolores is one of seven feature-length Cine Sin Fronteras movies screening at the Milwaukee Film festival this year, and it’s well worth seeing.

The film, which incorporates archival footage along with interviews, is equal parts informative and inspirational. Bratt includes soundbites from Huerta’s many supporters (Angela Davis, Hillary Clinton) as well as her detractors (Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly) and doesn’t shy away from depicting her complicated relationship with César Chávez, or the pain her long absences inflicted on her 11 children.

The end result is a rich portrait of a complicated woman – not perfect, but always striving for perfection – that ought to resonate with anyone critical of our current political landscape.

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“I used to think it was wrong to try to take credit for the work I did,” Huerta says near the end of the film, in response to the suggestion that women, especially minority women, rarely receive as much attention for political activism as men. “I don’t think that anymore.”

You’ve got two more chances to see Dolores at the film festival this year. It plays at the Fox Bay Cinema Grill at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, October 6. And again at the Oriental Theater at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, October 9. Bring your daughters. Bring anyone who wants to be reminded that, even during times of great political strife or uncertainty, there are people out there fighting for our rights and freedoms, people like Dolores Huerta.


Go See It: Dolores

  • Friday, October 6, 3:30 p.m. (Fox Bay Cinema Grill)
  • Monday, October 9, 12:30 p.m. (Oriental Theater)

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