May 18, 2017 at 7:30 pm
Memories of a Penitent Heart
Discussion following the screening with filmmakers Cecilia Aldarondo and Felix Endara
‘exceptional … the best of Tribeca’ —Village Voice
‘one of the most viscerally effective and emotionally devastating documentaries of 2016’ —Audiences Everywhere
‘incredible … overall perfection’ — The Independent
Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. Originating from filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo’s suspicion that there was something ugly in her family’s past, the film charts her excavation of the buried family conflict around her uncle Miguel’s death, and her search for Miguel’s partner Robert a generation later. After two years of dead ends, Robert turns up: but he’s not the same man. He’s reinvented himself as Father Aquin, a Franciscan monk with twenty- five years of pent-up grief and bitterness. For the first time, a member of Miguel’s family wants to hear Aquin’s side of the story—but is it too little, too late? A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS, and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis.
“MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART straddles a lot of divides—between art and social justice, between past and present, between the personal and the global. I’m making this film because I see the story of what happened in my family as a cautionary tale; there are thousands of similar stories buried across the world. I want viewers to see that bigotry doesn’t always look like a hate crime: often, it looks like blind love.”
The screening of MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART will be preceded by the short film GRIT & GRIND by Felix Endara and Sasha Wortzel. Felix Endara will also join us for the discussion following the program.
Grit & Grind
10 min., 2013
GRIT & GRIND is a documentary that recalls the Clit Club, an edgy lesbian party set in New York City’s Meatpacking District in the 1990s, as this large metropolis struggled with the AIDS epidemic. The film acts as a poly-vocal memoir of the sexually charged energy produced by this intergenerational, cross-racial, mixed-class venue; and serves as a record of a vibrant neighborhood before it became home to homogeneous trendy boutiques and luxury hotels.
Memories of a Penitent Heart
77 min., 2016
Cecilia Aldarondo holds an M.A. from Goldsmiths College and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, and is Assistant Professor of Film at Skidmore College. Her award-winning personal documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016 and will broadcast nationally on POV in 2017. A co-production of POV, Latino Public Broadcasting, and ITVS, MEMORIES has received additional support from the MacDowell Colony, the Sundance Institute, Jerome Foundation, Firelight Media, and New York State Council on the Arts, among others. In 2015 Aldarondo was selected for IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs and Sundance Institute’s Edit and Story Lab, and was the winner of the 2015 Paley DocPitch. Aldarondo was the inaugural recipient of the Roberto Guerra Documentary Award in 2015, was named by FILMMAKER Magazine as one of 2015’s ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film,’ and is a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow.
Born in Ecuador, Felix Endara is a New York-based independent filmmaker and programmer whose films have screened at festivals including Berlin, Frameline, Outfest, NewFest, DOC NYC, and Mill Valley. From 2008 to 2012, he programmed Arts Engine’s documentary screening series DocuClub, which he toured to Mexico City and Silver Spring, Maryland. In 2010, he was a fellow at the IFP Documentary Finishing Lab as producer for WILDNESS (2012, Dir: Wu Tsang), which follows the trajectory of a gay male bar in Los Angeles as its transforms into a refuge for immigrant Latina transgender women. It premiered at MoMa’s Documentary Fortnight series in February 2012, was an official selection at SXSW, and screened at the Whitney Biennial later that year. He also produced ARTICLE OF FAITH (2011, Dir: Christina Antonakos-Wallace), which received the “Changemaker Award” at the Media That Matters film festival in 2011. The short portrays anti-bullying Sikh activist Sonny Singh and his fight to ban discrimination in New York City schools. In addition, Felix participated in Working Films/Fledgling Fund’s first Reel Engagement workshop, in New York, focusing on outreach and audience engagement; and in documentary trainings at Amsterdam’s IDFA Academy and Dok-Leipzig’s Co-Production Meetings, in Germany. He has been a reviewer for P.O.V., Tribeca All Access, Tribeca Film Festival, NewFest, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, and the New York Asian American International Film Festival; and an advisor for Cinereach Reach Fellows. In 2013, he served as a jury member of the New Orleans Film Festival. His short documentary GRIT & GRIND (directed by Felix Endara and Sasha Wortzel) tells the story of the Clit Club, an edgy lesbian club set in New York’s Meatpacking District in the 1990s, as the city struggled with the AIDS epidemic. The film had its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014. The film also screened at DOCNYC in 2014, where Felix was a winner of the festival’s Doc-A-Thon series pitch panel workshop. He is currently working on a short series about how trans people choose their names.