Short Takes: "Homegoings"
The PBS documentary looks at life (and death) through the eyes of Harlem funeral director Isaiah Owens.
Linda Williams-Miller is sick and doesn't want to burden her children, so she decides to plan her own funeral. She meets with Isaiah Owens, a slow-talking mortician who eases the tension by noting the exact red of her hair dye, saying he knows she wouldn't be caught dead with the wrong color. In Homegoings, director Christine Turner offers an exquisitely composed and intimate view of African American death traditions. Shot in funeral homes in Harlem and South Carolina, the film focuses on Owens, a calming, even charming presence who brings humor in times of grief. As he describes funerals, this documentary is "a sad, good time."
This review originally appeared in our July/August issue of Mother Jones.