Las Sandinistas gives voice to the women who broke barriers during the 1979 Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua.
A lot of credit goes to director Jenny Murray for telling their stories. What she ultimately does is tell a story that hasn’t been told before. Dora Maria Téllez was a 22-year-old medical student when she helped pave the way for their first victory in a major city. It’s possible that these stories might very well be lost to history and that would be a tragedy in its in own right. The premiere of this film comes as there has been so much turmoil in Hollywood as women have gone public with their stories about men in powerful positions. These were women who were raised at a time in which a women’s role was to stay at home and raise their kids.
As the late 1970s come around, it’s these women who rise up to the occasion be it in combat or for social reform. They represented women from every social class in the country and accounted for 30% of the rebel army. After the Somoza family dictatorship fell in 1979, these women helped to pioneer medical, social, and education programs that would sweep across the country. The education program alone helped to increase the literacy rate in a one year period. The medical program meant free healthcare being offered to women and children who had been dying from easily curable diseases. It begs the question about the cost of healthcare in America but that’s another documentary for another day.
The Somoza dictators were the same one in which the United States government had loaned money to at the time–money that was clearly not going where the Carter administration likely intended. As the revolution gave rise to the Sandinistas, the Reagan administration put their eggs in the Contras. The film provides a different light on the Sandinistas than what was seen in last fall’s Tom Cruise-starring American Made.
Murray’s documentary is so important because she’s giving these women their voice back. The Sandinistas that are in charge now are not the same ones who were in power when the Somoza family dictatorship was defeated in 1979. As the mainstream media ignores what’s happening, the women are fighting back with as much passion as they did back then because the current government in power has decided to erase their accomplishments from history. Throw in the increasing rates of rape and violence against women and they aren’t going down without a fight. These were women who were heroic in the fight for social reform or fighting in the military. In this way, Las Sandinistas serves as a film appropriate for the Me, Too era.
DIRECTOR: Jenny Murray
FEATURING: Dora Maria Téllez, Sofia Montenegro, Daisy Zamora, Gioconda Belli, Claudia Lopez Alonso, Monica Baltodano
An official selection of the 2018 SXSW Film Festival, Las Sandinistas premieres as part of the Documentary Feature Competition.