On a warm summer's evening last year, myself and a couple of funeral trade friends headed to the Lexi Cinema in Queens Park to see the documentary film Dead Good, followed by a Q&A session with the film's director Rehana Rose.
This beautiful, gentle film affected us all deeply and we wanted to share it with others, but sadly there didn't seem to be any way of seeing it other than at a limited number of screenings across the UK. So I was delighted to receive an email this week announcing that the film is now available to rent through video-on-demand platform Vimeo. You can watch the trailer with its introduction by actor Dame Emma Thompson below.
“This is an unbelievably timely and important film. It is beautifully crafted, so comforting as well as moving and gives the wisdom forth so simply and compellingly. Everyone should see this.” Dame Emma Thompson
The documentary film follows Brighton-based funeral director Cara Mair (below) owner of Arka Original Funerals as she gently guides three families through the period between the death of their loved one and the funeral itself. Cara has spent the past 20 years helping to empower families to take ownership of the funeral process. In her own words "we're walking alongside people to find the best way to say farewell to their loved ones". The point being that the 'best way' will be different for every family.
The space between a death and a funeral is "a big space" says local priest Peter Owen-Jones in the film. It's certainly a time when families might be in shock following a sudden death, or even experiencing a sense of relief after a long, drawn out illness. A time when plans need to be put in place and decisions made, at a time when they may feel least equipped to do those things. Watching Cara enabling these families to craft a funeral which feels right for them is a beautiful and heartwarming experience.
If you are currently planning a funeral, you may find it useful and even comforting to watch this film, in order to get a feel for the different ways in which a funeral can take shape and how you can create an event which feels right for you, your family and friends. Be aware that you will see people who have died in the film, but only a hand or the back of a head, and it is so beautifully and sensitively done that you won't feel at all squeamish. Watching Cara gently massage rose cream into the hospital-bruised hands of an elderly lady is both beautiful and comforting, and a reminder that death is entirely natural and nothing to be afraid of or hidden from view.
The film was shot in and around Brighton and features many familiar landmarks which take on an otherworldly feel in the context of the film. From slow moving aerial shots of an ancient cemetery to the tranquillity of a woodland burial ground in hazy sunlight, the stunning visuals are accompanied by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack by Robert Smith, Alison Moyet and Underworld. If this film doesn't inspire you to become a funeral director, it may well make you want to pack your bags and move to Brighton.
Dead Good is available to rent on demand for £4.98 on Vimeo. You don't need a subscription to watch it - simply create a free Vimeo account to rent the film for 48 hours. Director Rehana Rose says "my advice is to plan when you want to watch it - allow 80 minutes, get comfy, maybe with a drink to hand, and watch it uninterrupted if possible…". I guarantee that this is a film which will stay with you long after the initial viewing.
Have you seen this film? Let us know what you thought in the comments below...