Choices of the Heart

Choices of the Heart
Choices of the Heart.JPG
Written byJohn Pielmeier
Directed byJoseph Sargent
StarringMelissa Gilbert
Peter Horton
Helen Hunt
Mary McCusker
Mari Gorman
Pamela Bellwood
Patrick Cassidy
René Enríquez
Mike Farrell
Martin Sheen
Theme music composerJohn Rubinstein
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersSandy Gallin
John Houseman
ProducersDavid W. Rintels
Joseph Sargent
Production locationsChurubusco Studios, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
CinematographyJorge Stahl Jr.
EditorGeorge Jay Nicholson
Running time100 minutes
Production companiesKatz-Gallin Productions
Half-Pint Productions
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • December 5, 1983 (1983-12-05)

Choices of the Heart is an American made-for-television drama film based on the lives of Jean Donovan, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and three American religious sisters who were killed in El Salvador during its Civil War.


The movie is based on actual events. On March 24, 1980, Romero was killed, and three Roman Catholic religious sisters and a lay Catholic missionary were killed on December 2, 1980, by Salvadoran death squads, possibly funded by the United States. Three of the women dedicated their lives to helping refugees and sick people for years. Jean Donovan had been in El Salvador for over two years helping the children that she was so devoted to. Donovan says over and over in her letters to her family in the U.S. that God brought her to El Salvador. These women were raped, tortured, and killed by members of a Salvadoran death squad. Attempts from the Salvadoran and American governments were made to try to cover the murders up.


The production was filmed mostly in Mexico. Mike Farrell plays Robert C. White, then U.S. President Jimmy Carter's Ambassador to El Salvador, who keeps running into official interference and noncooperation in his investigation concerning the murdered women. Martin Sheen appears as Matt Phelan, a Dublin priest whom Miss Donovan meets while spending her junior college year in Ireland.


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