The warm-hearted documentary “Dolores” corrects a historic oversight, giving proper credit to a hero of the American labor movement — and a few other movements to boot.
At 87, Dolores Huerta has seen and done it all. As a community organizer in California in the early 1960s, she teamed up with Cesar Chavez to mobilize migrant farmworkers and form what became the United Farm Workers. She did all this while raising seven children (she had four more when she had a relationship with Chavez’s brother Richard).
Huerta organized the UFW-led boycott of table grapes in New York. She helped register Latinos to vote for Robert Kennedy in the California primary in 1968 and was next to him at the Ambassador Hotel podium minutes before he was assassinated. Twenty years later, she was hospitalized after being beaten by cops while protesting George H.W. Bush. She also came up with the rallying cry “Sí Se Puede” — “Yes We Can” — that Barack Obama acknowledged he borrowed for his 2008 presidential campaign.
Director Peter Bratt stitches together a wide array of archival footage and extensive interviews with Huerta’s admirers, most of her children and herself. He goes beyond Huerta’s importance to Latinos to chart her championing of civil rights, women’s rights and environmental safety (by pushing for control on pesticides that were poisoning farmworkers).
What’s most touching in “Dolores” is the discussion of how Huerta’s work took her away from her children and how both mother and children have reconciled that over the years. That element shows Huerta as more than the sum of her historic moments.
* * *
An absorbing, thoughtful and vibrant documentary that profiles the tireless activist and labor icon Dolores Huerta.
Where • Broadway Centre Cinemas.
When • Opens Friday, Oct. 6.
Rating • Not rated, but probably PG-13 for violent images, sexual content and language.
Running time • 95 minutes.