In this remarkably rewarding documentary we meet a feisty community group in Port Kembla, NSW that sets out to bypass the corporate drivers of the funeral industry and set up their own non-profit funeral business.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2014
Once, tending to our dead was the domain of small businesses, churches and local councils. Now, crematoriums, cemeteries and funeral services are being bought and streamlined by multinational enterprises. Many families have felt the sting of exorbitant costs and limited options – and in Australia Aboriginal traditional practices are barely acknowledged. At a community centre in Port Kembla, south of Sydney, a group of women resolve to run a non-profit alternative. ‘It’s like Coles and Woolies,’ says one, ‘they need a challenge.’ Filmmaker Lynette Wallworth revels in their practicality and warmth as she observes the woman‘s hearty admission of what’s in store for all of us. But there’s a limpid gravity in her regard for them too, as we watch the community recognise its capacity to deal with devastating fear and sadness. Wallworth has widely exhibited as a gallery artist, and there’s a lovely poetic grace to this, her first film. It’s shot with great care and wit, scored to a minor-key lilt by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – and there’s a little dog named Bailey which turns up in almost every shot. Tender, so aptly titled, establishes her instantly as a documentary maker of real distinction.