RKS 2023 Toronto Hot Docs: “Undertaker for Life!”: More About the Living than the Dead

The National Film Board of Canada presents a gem of a documentary “Undertaker for Life!” at the Toronto Hot Docs Festival. Yes there is a focus on several undertakers and mourners but the documentary is more about how the living navigate death of loved ones through the grieving process. As one undertaker quips about the statement that in life there are death and taxes but while some can avoid paying taxes no one can avoid death!

The funeral directors we meet in the documentary are witty, insightful, humorous, and full of valuable advice on both death and dying. We listen to their first embalming experiences, their reflections on life and death, what has shaken them and how you might want to best live your life and manage your death. In addition to learning historical aspects about the undertaking business you’ll understand better about funerals and the grieving proves in the Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faith. And yes funeral directors do cry. One recounts a trip to a children’s hospital morgue where the tiny gurneys had Walt Disney themed blankets at the ready to cover the bodies. 

These undertakers are philosophers! One said my father was a doctor and sister a nurse and when they have done all that they could it is my turn to step forward!

A brilliant collection of music from flippant to sombre whether it be carnival music or New Orleans funeral procession jazz.

If death is in your plans you must watch “Undertaker for Life!”. As death is part of life undertakers are performing a life service.

The documentary will screen at Toronto Hot Docs on 28April and 1May and streams in Canada on 5May.  

This 52-minute documentary is directed by Georges Hannan.

RKS 2023 Film Rating 90/100.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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