MORTAL REMAINS – 2002 / 52:00 / 16mm to Beta SP

Mortal Remains examines the evolution of the North American cemetery through the centuries, and considers its unique place within our culture. The hour-long documentary takes the viewer on a historical tour of the church graveyards of centuries past through such grand old garden cemeteries as New York’s Woodlawn and Greenwood, and finally to the “memorial parks” of today. Along the way it traces the development of monument art, reflects on the wide variety of artifacts that appear in cemeteries on occasions such as Mother’s Day and Halloween, and examines the pilgrimages that people make to the gravesites of the famous.

In addition, Mortal Remains offers insight and informed opinion from a remarkably varied cast of characters. Historians Kenneth Jackson and John Adams explain the importance of the cemetery as a cultural and historical resource. Janis Chandler of Vancouver’s W.R. Chandler Memorials demonstrates the process of creating stone monuments. And John Warhola, brother of artist Andy Warhol, pays a visit to his well-known sibling’s grave in Pittsburgh. Materialistic and youth-obsessed, our culture often seems at pains to avoid the acknowledgement of human mortality: sex is in, death is out. From the simplest of wooden markers to the most ostentatious of crypts, every grave expresses the same desperate human longing to understand the meaning of death – and life.Mortal Remains was produced by Foxglove Films, written and directed by Chris Gallagher in association with VisonTV and The Knowledge Network.