‘Ethel’ premieres at JFK library

By Lexi Salazar, Cape Cod Times

BOSTON – Rory Kennedy resisted the idea of making a film about her family for a long time, and if it weren’t for the persistence of HBO, she may have never decided to make “Ethel,” her new documentary that premiered on Monday night at John F. Kennedy Library & Museum.

Rory Kennedy, co-founder and president of Moxie Firecracker Films, has directed or produced more than 35 documentaries, including “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” which won an Emmy award.
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Kennedy said Sheila Evans, her friend and president of HBO Documentary Films, had met her mother a number of times and insisted that she make a film about her.

“She thought there was a great film to be had there. I kept saying ‘No no no,’ but she kept saying ‘Yes yes yes,’” Rory said.

The filmmaker said her father would not have liked the idea of her making a movie about the family, but she decided to ask her mother for her opinion. And even when her mother agreed, Rory Kennedy still wasn’t entirely sure if it was something she wanted to do.

“We were on our way before I could back out of it,” she said.

Kennedy said she was uncertain about making a family film because of the tragic aspects of Ethel Kennedy’s past.

“There are a lot of really wonderful parts of my mother and her story, but there are also a lot of bad parts, and it’s hard to ask her to relive those,” she said.

As Ethel Kennedy entered the premiere on Monday night, she did admit that she agreed to do the film only because of her daughter. She said there is no one she would have rather told her story to — even though, she said, her daughter didn’t hold back on tough questions.

“She’s great, and makes it bearable,” Ethel Kennedy said.

Rory Kennedy said she plans no future films about her family, but the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum was an exciting place for her film to make its Boston premiere.

“My mother is such a remarkable woman, but her side of the story hasn’t been told,” Rory Kennedy said. “That piece of the puzzle was missing.”

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