Preview POV’s Documentary “Memories of a Penitent Heart”

Filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo suspected that there was something ugly in her family’s past. In “Memories of a Penitent Heart,” she unearths a buried conflict.


On Monday evening, the PBS documentary series POV (in collaboration with Latino Public Broadcasting) will premiere Cecilia Aldarondo’s Memories of a Penitent Heart, a deeply emotional investigation into the story of the director’s uncle, Miguel Dieppa, who died of AIDS-related complications in the Eighties. Aldarondo draws on a wealth of archival material (love letters, home movies, audio clips, old photographs) to evoke Miguel’s life, from his childhood in Seventies Puerto Rico to his time as a creative in New York City, where he pursued a career in the theater and eventually penned an autobiographical play, Island Fever. Miguel’s bohemian lifestyle became a point of acute conflict between him and his mother, a devout Catholic who disapproved of his homosexuality.

Reviewing the doc for the Voice from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, Nick Schager called it “exceptional” and declared it “one of [Tribeca’s] most profoundly affecting” entries that year. To watch Memories of a Penitent Heart on PBS, check your local listings or stream it on Below you will find an exclusive clip from the movie.