Director: Rory Kennedy
Screenwriters: Mark Bailey

Institute History

  • 2012 Sundance Film Festival


It would have satisfied even the most voracious history buffs if Rory Kennedy, youngest child of Robert and Ethel Kennedy, had enlisted her mother’s perspective simply as a fresh angle on the Kennedy years. But ETHEL is so much more. Intimate, humorous conversations and never-before-seen images from the family troves uncover an enthralling story of a vivacious, authentic heroine whose transformation—from rambunctious Republican firecracker to savvy Democratic campaigner to socially conscious single mother of 11—arcs definitively as her husband’s drama unfolds.

The film’s power surfaces as Ethel’s unique value system and the intrinsic connection between the family’s private and public lives come into focus. Tales of the young brood attending Senate hearings, of heartfelt letters RFK wrote as a way of incorporating them into momentous political occasions, and of each child’s assignment to a social-justice mission reveal the respect and love that fueled Ethel’s household—a microcosm for what this country can be. Ethel Kennedy stands alongside her husband as a beacon of integrity and hope.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details


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