By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz
Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.
The nearly 90 people at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa who attended a Thursday night screening of “Ethel,” a film about the life of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s wife and family, got an even closer encounter with the matriarch than they expected.
As closing credits began to roll, Emmy award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy escorted her 86-year-old mother into the JFK Ballroom and the audience burst into applause.
Ethel Kennedy took a seat in the crowd and her daughter took the stage for a Q & A with guests.
“It was not in my comfort zone, or my mother’s, to do a film about my family,” Rory Kennedy said. “But I do feel, because of her character and personality, that she has a life worth documenting.”
The film first aired on HBO in 2012 and has since been screened at the Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard Film Festivals, as well as in Boston and New York.
It was shown Thursday as a part of the JFK Hyannis Museum’s Summer Speaker Series.
When HBO first approached Rory Kennedy about the film, she was hesitant.
Having produced over 35 documentaries tackling topics such as the AIDS crisis, human rights, domestic abuse, poverty, drug addiction, and political corruption, a documentary about her family seemed a little too close to home.
But after getting her mother’s approval, they moved forward with the project.
“My mother always taught us growing up that we should focus on the world outside of ourselves,” Rory Kennedy said.
But after rustling through over 10,000 old photographs and home videos, the filmaker, who was born 6 months after her father’s assasination said she was happy to get a chance to uncover a side of her family she had never seen.
The screening came two days after a Mashpee man wandered into the family’s Hyannisport home through an unlocked door.
“It’s always been an open-door policy at our house,” Rory Kennedy said. “Perhaps a little too open-door.”
The crowd broke into laughter.