He was only five years old when Isaiah Owens planned his very first staged funeral. He decided to bury a matchstick and fashioned a casket out of a used beer can which was covered with toilet paper. His passion for it grew as he grows older and that is when he decided to plan his first real funeral for a beloved dog of his neighbor.
Others may regard Owens’ passion with dealing with death and the traditions that come along with it to be unsettling but to the native of Branchville, he has found what he is destined to do in life.
This calling is the reason why Owens was chosen to be the subject of a documentary made to honor the funeral traditions that are observed by African-Americans.
According to the restorative artist and master embalmer, he is excited with the project and humbled at the same time because he has reached this point in his life and career. It was like an answer to the many years he has sacrificed and to the hard work he has put into it.
The feature documentary is the debut project made by Christine Turner, an independent filmmaker based in New York. The documentary is entitled Homegoings and it tackles the culture and death’s history as well as how blacks cope with mourning. The documentary shared the story through the eyes of Owens who is the owner of Owens Funeral Home located in Branchville and Harlem, New York.
The film held its world premiere last February 28 during its screening hosted at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Homegoings will be a feature documentary at the Documentary Fortnight 2013 of the International Selections which is the yearly showcase of the latest nonfiction film and media by MoMA.
The documentary will also be included in the MoMA Selects: POV to pay respect to the showcase that has run the longest in terms of independent nonfiction film under the Public Broadcasting System. Its premiere broadcast is expected to start in the summer at POV by PBS. This will give the audience an idea about funeral directors and might give a glimpse of how it is like for funeral directors in Perth.