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'Homegoings' (Doc Exploring African American Funeral Traditions) Debuts at MoMA’s Doc Fortnight 2013

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 31, 2013 11:59 AM
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We first alerted you to Christine Turner's feature documentary titled Homegoings, in late 2011, when it was one of 10 projects selected to receive a total of $150,000 in grants towards completing their projects, from the Tribeca Documentary Fund.

Turner's seemingly fascintating Homegoings...

... explores the African American funeral home, a 150 year-old institution that is now vanishing. Told through the eyes of a Harlem funeral director, Isaiah Owens, and the families he serves, this film tells the intimate stories of families who have lost loved ones and the passionate man behind their funerals.

Just over a year later, the film will have its World Premiere next month at the 2013 Documentary Fortnight at MoMA, in the International Selections section.

The Documentary Fortnight at MoMA was established in 2001, and is an annual two-week showcase of recent nonfiction film and video, from all over the world.

Homegoings is set to screen on Thursday, February 28 at 8pm.

The film is also part of MoMA Selects: POV, an homage to PBS’s longest-running showcase for independent documentary film, with a special selection of films from the series’ past 25 years. Homegoings will make its broadcast premiere on POV later this year.

The premiere at Documentary Fortnight 2013 will feature a special performance by composer and violinist Daniel Roumain, introduced by Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer, POV; followed by a discussion with Christine Turner and an appearance by Isaiah Owens.

More from the press release:

Filmmaker Christine Turner combines intimate interviews and compelling cinéma vérité to paint an enlightening portrait—that is both heartwarming and haunting—of not only the dearly departed, but also the man who serves them so well. As the daughter of a Chinese-American mother and an African-American father, Turner experienced two different sets of funeral customs when both of her grandmothers passed away within two weeks of one another. Though just a child at the time, she remained curious about the different ways cultures mourned death. Many years later, when she came across an article about Harlem undertaker Isaiah Owens, who had a reputation for beautifying the dead, she was immediately intrigued. Originally from South Carolina, Owens moved to New York in 1968 to train as a mortician at the age of 17. In addition to being recognized as a superb embalmer and restorative artist, he has since earned a number of awards for his contributions to the community. Along with his wife, Lillie, he runs Owens Funeral Home, “where beauty softens your grief.” “While death is something we all must face in one way or another, it is so often a taboo subject of discussion,” said Turner. “With HOMEGOINGS, I wanted to open a conversation on death in a way that not only captured its pain, but also its humor and humanity. I found that the best and most moving way to do that was through real stories from real people. I discovered that the true experts on death are the ones who are dealing with it every day and they are the ones who can truly make you appreciate life.”

I'm in!

To stay up to date, *like* the film's Facebook page HERE, or visit: www.homegoings.com.

Check out the contemplative film's trailer below:

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