Reprinted from Biography by Maria Garcia o August 26, 2017.
Dolores Huerta’s girlhood dream was to become a dancer. She loves the music of Dizzy Gillespie, the great jazz trumpeter, and his friend and contemporary, legendary saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, Jr. Dolores told filmmaker Peter Bratt that when she met Bird, she was unable to speak. “It is hard to imagine Dolores that way,” Bratt jokes, in an interview on a blistering August day in New York City. For nearly half a century, beginning in the mid-1950s, it was Dolores’s voice that persuaded farm workers to abandon the fields that allowed them to support their families. She spoke to them of a larger vision. Bratt’s mother, a Peruvian-Quechuan who worked in the fields of California’s San Joaquin Valley, shared Dolores’s idealism, and joined her marches, her young son beside her.
Dolores co-founded the UFW, the United Farm Workers union, in 1962, along with César Chávez, after a decade of labor organizing. She would go on to become the UFW’s vice-president. Bratt’s biographical documentary, Dolores, which will open in theaters on September 1st, is the first feature-length film about the life of this fearless activist, born in New Mexico in 1930. It is a narrative that belongs to tens of thousands of workers, and to Bratt and his family. As a mixed race Latino-indigenous man, he views Dolores as a tribal elder. “My aunts were all farm workers,” the filmmaker recalls, “and I want my children, especially my daughter, to know this story.”
Bratt’s previous film is La Mission (2010), a narrative feature set in San Francisco’s ethnically diverse Mission District. Dolores marks his documentary debut. A few years ago, the filmmaker received a call from Carlos Santana, the iconic Mexican-American guitarist and founder of the band Santana. The two men, both from the Mission District, had met at a screening of La Mission, and spoke about working together one day. Santana had invited Dolores to his Hawaii home for a much needed rest from her work, now centered on the social justice efforts of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “She’s 87 and works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Bratt says. “At night, she likes to go dancing.” …