In Ethel, Rory Kennedy Takes on Her Toughest Subject: Her Family

The documentary filmmaker celebrates the matriarch of the Kennedy clan.


Rory Kennedy's documentary focuses on her mother, Ethel Kennedy, wife of Robert Kennedy.

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"There are obviously the historical events my father was involved in [with] my mother and my family. I knew what happened, I read a lot of books about them," says Rory, "But there's something to be said to really try to understand what was going on internally with my family during those times."

To relive these watermarks of the mid-20th century is where Ethel finds its strength. As Rory explains it, "The parallels of what my family was going through was so consistent with what so many people were dealing with in the country—there's something ... affirming about that process and feeling like you can speak to people in a wider, bigger way."

Ethel premieres Thursday, October 18 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

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  • Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at