‘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.”