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Award-Winning Film Honoring History of African-American Funeral Traditions Told Through the Life of Renowned Harlem Funeral Director Isaiah Owens
Published:
2/1/2014 6:18:19 PM


Photo Courtesy of Peralta Pictures
 
New York, NY - HOMEGOINGS, filmmaker Christine Turner's debut feature documentary that honors the traditions of African-American funerals through a moving portrait of a man and a people - and of the faith, hope and history that sustain them in the face of death - will be available for digital rental via Vimeo on Demand beginning Feb. 18, 2014, and is available for pre-order now at www.homegoings.com. Videos purchased through Vimeo On Demand are accessible across devices, connecting creators to Vimeo's 93 million monthly viewers across desktop, mobile (Android/iOS/Windows), connected TV devices (Apple TV/Roku/Google TV/Xbox Live), and major smart TV platforms (Samsung/Panasonic/Phillips). For more information about Vimeo On Demand, visit https://vimeo.com/ondemand.

The Vimeo on Demand release follows a successful year since HOMEGOINGS had its World Premiere at the 2013 Documentary Fortnight: MoMA's International Festival of Nonfiction Film, and also made its national broadcast premiere on PBS as part of the 26th season of POV (Point of View), American television's longest-running independent documentary series. For its POV broadcast, HOMEGOINGS received a 2014 Cinema Eye Honors nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television. The film was also awarded as Best Documentary presented by CNN Films at American Black Film Festival 2013 and Best Documentary at Black Star Film Festival 2013.

Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life in HOMEGOINGS. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City's historic Harlem neighborhood, this award-winning documentary takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones "home."

Originally from South Carolina, Mr. Owens moved to New York in 1968 to train as a mortician at the age of 17. In addition to being recognized as a superb embalmer and restorative artist, he has since earned a number of awards for his contributions to the community. Along with his wife, Lillie, he runs Owens Funeral Home, "where beauty softens your grief."

"I am proud to offer HOMEGOINGS to a broad viewing audience in an engaging new way via Vimeo on Demand," said Turner. "With HOMEGOINGS, I wanted to open a conversation on death in a way that captured grief and sadness, but also the humor and sense of release that I sometimes observed from behind the camera."

Praise for HOMEGOINGS:
"The morbid meets the deeply spiritual in Christine Turner's assured documentary. . . Ms. Turner captures the intimacy of solemn, heartfelt moments, and salutes a man who honors their value." -Andy Webster, The New York Times

"Exquisitely tender. . . one of those rare opportunities to go toward the thing we fear most-death-and realize how much joy and comfort there is in it, when handled with grace and care. Thoughtful and enlightening." -Hank Stuever, The Washington Post

"Watching [Isaiah Owens'] gentle face . . . and hearing him explain his interest in laying the dead to rest . . . we know instinctively that his presence on earth is a gift to all who meet him, living or dead." -Nancy deWolf Smith, The Wall Street Journal

Credits:
Director & Producer: Christine Turner
Cinematographer: Marshall Stief
Editor: Sonejuhi Sinha
Original Music: Daniel Roumain
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
Executive Producer for POV: Simon Kilmurry

HOMEGOINGS is a co-production of Peralta Pictures, ITVS and POV's Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is a co-presentation with the National Black Programming Consortium.

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