Rory Kennedy’s Ethel tells the story of history through the eyes of her mother Ethel, wife to Robert Kennedy. The vivid detail in the film, of course, also provides a compelling look at the American 1960s. For that reason, the filmmaker is trying to get the film in front of students as often as possible. Today, a special screening was held at the Hollywood 20 for a group of Sarasota High School students. Rory Kennedy told the gathered students she hoped the film “opened their eyes” to an era of history from well before they were born.
Interestingly, students in the theater were as interested in the family dynamic and the way in which Rory Kennedy went about interviewing her mother and eight living siblings.
Student Qiara Patterson questioned Kennedy, the youngest of Bobby Kennedy’s 11 children and the only one born after his death, about whether she feels closer to some siblings than others. The topic was of interest to Qiara because she also comes from a large family. “My mom has six kids so I am used to having a lot of siblings and cousins and aunts and uncles,” she said.
Student Simone Ford-Hars asked about whether Kennedy felt a separation between herself and her older siblings because she never knew her father. Kennedy responded that the absence of her father has been a constant in her life, so it doesn’t seem abnormal, but she said that is part of why the older children of Robert and Ethel have a more prominent role in describing the family dynamic while the politician was still alive.
It was striking to student David Grain that the director was able to gather such insight on her father even though he died before her birth. “Even being alive after he was deceased, I mean she wasn’t even born yet, she had a lot of information,” he said.
Marcus Buffett said it made history more vivid to attend the event. “It was interesting coming from an actual Kennedy,” he said.