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.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 31, 2017

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