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Skidmore College

From Tribeca to Sundance

November 22, 2016

English professor Cecilia Aldarondo's Memories of a Penitent Heart debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival and recently won her a fellowship from the Sundance Institute. She screened and discussed the documentary on Tuesday, Nov. 29. 

On July 31, the PBS show POV aired the documentary Memories of a Penitent Heart. Along with appearing at the Tribeca Film Festival, it won a fellowship from the fellowship from the Sundance Institute.

Combining old home movies and documents with creatively shot interviews and other footage, Penitent Heart charts Aldarondo’s unearthing of a long-buried family conflict about her Uncle Miguel and his death from AIDS. After two years of searching, she finds her uncle's partner, who has reinvented himself as a Franciscan monk but who still harbors 25 years of pent-up grief and bitterness. Memories of a Penitent Heart is something of a cautionary tale about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present. The Village Voice calls the film "exceptional" and "profoundly affecting."

Official Trailer--Memories of a Penitent Heart from Cecilia Aldarondo on Vimeo.

Penitent Heart's honors include a best-documentary award at the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival and a special award for emotional honesty at the Indie Memphis Film Festival. It is slated for national broadcast on public television’s POV in 2017.

Filmmaker and English professor
Cecilia Aldarondo

Now the Sundance Institute has announced that Aldarondo is one of six Women at Sundance fellows for 2017. The fellowship pairs her with a professional coach to help guide her development as a filmmaker in the coming year. It also includes networking opportunities and a stipend to attend the Sundance festival’s one-on-one meetings, group seminars, and other events. 

Aldarondo's scholarship and interests encompass literature, gender studies, contemporary art, and politics as well as filmmaking; her Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota, is in comparative studies in discourse and society.

After Tuesday's screening, English professor Mason Stokes—whose books and essays include the acclaimed "Namesake," about his uncle—will lead the audience in conversation with Aldarondo.

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