Johnny Boston’s documentary Funeral Director: Making a Living Dealing with the Dead takes a look at the world of the funeral director, specifically by focusing in on a funeral director convention in San Antonio, Texas. And just what goes on at a convention for funeral directors? Honestly, a lot of what goes on at other occupations’ conventions.

Only, you know, the booths on display are catering to funeral directors and their funeral homes, so lots of caskets, embalming tables, new types of embalming fluids and the like. Items that mask offensive odors, such as those of a decomposing body, or a service that will turn your remains into a diamond. Basically everything the modern funeral director could need, or don’t know they need, that you have probably never once thought about until you unfortunately had to.

Which is one of the aspects of documentary filmmaking I enjoy the most, learning about something I either didn’t know existed, or never took the time to ponder. While it makes sense that there would be a convention for funeral directors, I never once thought about it prior to seeing this film; it’s a whole new world for me when it comes to funerals now.

Lest you think this is just a film of different funeral directors or corporate suppliers hawking their wares, there is more going on. As different anecdotes are shared, you get more insight into the life of a funeral director in general, and most interviewed in the film explain how they became funeral directors. It’s a rough job, albeit one that everyone seems to be tackling with respect and a sense of humor, such as when one director admits that “if it isn’t illegal or unethical, we’ll do it.” There’s also a sobering understanding of what purpose the modern funeral serves, and why so many go through such incredible lengths for those who have passed on.

On the filmmaking side, the documentary has a strong pace and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It makes the points it wants to make, and doesn’t linger anywhere too long so as to lose the audience’s attention. There’s a playful tone to the entire film too, from the animated graphics, for example, that seems to match up with the relaxed feeling of those speaking to the camera. Which, when you think about it, makes a strange sense; of all the people on the face of the Earth that should be relaxed, it’s probably those who spend the most time helping others cope with death.

Overall, Funeral Director: Making a Living Dealing with the Dead is entertaining, but also includes more than a few nuggets of true life (and death) insight that stick with you long after the film has wrapped. Echoing one funeral director’s thoughts, I don’t think it matters how people handle my funeral, if at all, when I die because, well, I’ll be dead, and the funeral isn’t really for me anyway. That said, those memorial reefs sound pretty neat…

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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