The Legacy of Rául Júlia, “The Penitent” Honored at Ibero American Film Fest

Penitent Banner

 Participating Are Actors Julie Carmen, Armand Assante and Merel Júlia

New Mexico Attorneys Luis B. Juarez & Frank G. Gallegos
The Penitent Film & Discussion

 October 22, 2014, 6PM
Yale University

Raul Julia
Raul Julia

The New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema announced the special screening the 1988 film The Penitent, as homage to

the legacy of one of America’s most beloved actors, Rául Júlia. The screening is timed perfectly to recognize the 20th anniversary of the passing of Julia. The Penitent is said to be Julia’s personal favorite of his illustrious career.

The Penitent (written and directed by Cliff Osmond) screening and panel discussion will take place on October 22nd, 6PM at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT on the Yale campus.

PenitentThe film’s co-stars, Julie Carmen and Armand Assante along with New Mexico lawyers, Frank Gallegos and Luis Juarez will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Puerto Rican Journalist and Filmmaker, Caridad Sorondo. Merel Júlia, the actor’s widow will also be present. The panel will delve into the theme of the role of women in film and the vulnerability of religious minorities.

Rául Júlia was one of the most respected actors of his generation and well known for his humanitarian work. His diverse acting career included stage, film and television. He won numerous awards, including four Golden Globes and awards for human rights work. His unforgettable films include Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Burning Season, Romero, The Penitent, and The Adams Family.

Although his life was cut short at the age of 54, Júlia leaves a legacy most do not equal. In The Penitent, a fictional story set in New Mexico and South Colorado, Júlia delivers one of his most dramatic performances as Penitente Ramon Guerola. Attorney Frank Gallegos is credited to placing the film in the NEFIAC Film Festival at Yale University for educational and historical purposes.

The Penitent is particularly poignant today as we watch minority populations be killed, forced to flee to defend their homelands at great costs,” said Julie Carmen. “The film shed light on a community that relocated to the U.S. and Mexico after being expelled from Spain during the diaspora caused by the Inquisition. Their practices remained intact throughout the centuries and are presented in director Osmond’s narrative film with great sensitivity.”

Merel Julia and Armand Assante
Merel Julia and Armand Assante

Carmen further explained that both female characters in The Penitent push against the double standard towards women in a very religious town. “A young virgin is married off to a much older man but chooses to lose her virginity to the man of her choice while my character lives autonomously just outside town,” explained Carmen. “She loves freely and speaks with uncensored anger about religious hypocrisy. She’s an iconoclast, the type of woman who’d be burned or stoned through the ages by the very men who called her a friend.”

The Penitent 3

For more information on the screening and panel discussion, contact Jane Mills,

Follow the festival and panelist on social media:
@NEFIAC on Twitter

Twitter: @JulieCarmen3  

Free and Open to the Public
2014 New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema
October 21-26

About Julie Carmen
Aside from being an award-winning actress with a career spanning over thirty years, Julie Carmen is also a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Yoga Media Producer. She is currently starring in Dawn Patrol, directed by Daniel Petrie Jr. opposite Scott Eastman and Rita Wilson. Dawn Patrol’s world premiere will be at the Austin Film Festival, October 25, 2014. Julie is perhaps best known for her starring role in Robert Redford’s Milagro Beanfield War, John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, The Penitent, King of the Jungle, Friday Night Part II, and NBC’s Drug Wars II. Nowadays, Julie has a private practice in Los Angeles, and finds the dynamics of balancing three professions enriching. Julie is Suzanne Somers’ private yoga teacher. A frequent contributor in LA Yoga Magazine, she is registered at the ERYT-500 level and is certified as a Yoga Therapist. She is Associate Director of Mental Health at Loyola Marymount University Yoga Therapy Rx. She is Founder and CEO of Yoga Talks, an indie yoga media production company.

About Armand Assante
One of the driving forces behind the production of The Penitent and the efforts now to revive the film, Armand Assante is a renown, award-winning actor with a long list of film and TV credits: American Gangster, The Mambo Kings, Gotti, among many others. He has also been a champion of independent filmmaking throughout his career and has given up cushy commercial roles to work with talented indie filmmakers or to support films who represent causes he believes in. He fell in love with the simplicity and poetry of The Penitente’s script and soon found himself raising the initial capital for the film and asked Rául Júlia to read the script. The rest is history.

About Caridad Sorondo
An award-winning journalist, film critic and filmmaker best known for her television work. Caridad is the producer and director of the popular Puerto Rican television show, En la punta de la lengua. Her film, Dona Inez Maria de Mendoza, will premiere at the NEFIAC on October 23rd.

About The Legal Eagles
Luis B. Juarez : A lawyer and former New Mexico prosecutor who studied for over two years to become a Penitente under Joe Baca, a leader of the Catholic lay fraternity in Montezuma, New Mexico.

Frank J. Gallegos: He practiced civil law for 25 years in New Mexico before spending the last four years as a criminal trial lawyer. As an attorney, Gallegos represented Penitentes in Taos, in their struggle to win approval from the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe to repair the Penitente chapel, known as a “morada.” The Catholic church bought the chapel years ago and locked the Penitentes out reflecting the church’s historical disapproval of Penitente ways. Gallegos, whose ancestors were Penitentes, found a 35mm copy of the film in the Library of Congress. He and Armand Assante have been trying to raise the money to buy the rights from the current owners overseas.

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