CECILIA ALDARONDO | MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART
In 1987, Miguel Dieppa repented of his homosexuality as he lay dying in a New York hospital. Like many other gay Puerto Ricans, Miguel left the island in search of sexual liberation and artistic fame. But then AIDS struck. At 31 Miguel died, leaving behind a grieving lover, a devout Catholic mother, and a lot of troubling rumors. A generation later, his niece Cecilia goes looking for Miguel’s partner Robert, in an effort to understand Miguel’s deathbed decision. 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? Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and verite footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, 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. Aldarondo is a New York-based filmmaker who obtained her MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths College and PhD in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society from the University of Minnesota. Her feature documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART has been supported by grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Sundance Institute, the Time Warner Foundation, and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.