POV: Memories of a Penitent Heart

POV: Memories of a Penitent Heart

Mon, 06/18/2018 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm

Pictured: Miguel and his partner Robert (Aquin)

Credit: Courtesy of Blackscrackle Films LLC

This documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family issues.

Like many gay men in the 1980s, Miguel moved from Puerto Rico to New York City; he found a career in theater and a rewarding relationship. In 1987 at the height of the AIDS crisis, he repented of his homosexuality on his deathbed under pressure from his devout Catholic mother. Twenty-five years later, his niece Cecilia pieces together the mystery behind her uncle’s death, sifting through conflicting memories of a man she never really knew in Memories of a Penitent Heart, airing Monday, June 18, 2018 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV as part of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. She locates Miguel’s estranged partner, pores over home movies and written documents, and begins to unlock long-dormant family secrets.

“Cecilia’s Aldarondo’s beautiful and evocative film explores the difficulties of not only being Puerto Rican in America, but also what it means to be gay and shunned by your community, family and church,” said POV Executive Producer Chris White. “This personal and complex portrait of her uncle, and those who loved him, shows how hard it can be to reconcile religion and sexual identity—and, in this case, demonstrably clouds the line between sinners and saints.”

Cecilia Aldarondo holds a master’s degree from Goldsmiths College and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Her personal documentary Memories of a Penitent Heart 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 the film was selected for IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs as well as Sundance Institute’s Edit and Story Lab, and was the winner of the 2015 Paley DocPitch. Aldarondo is assistant professor of film studies at Skidmore College, was the inaugural recipient of the Roberto Guerra Documentary Award in 2015, and has been named by FILMMAKER magazine as one of 2015’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

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