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Critical Acclaim for ‘Homegoings’ – Airs 6/24 on PBS

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On June 24, at 10 PM, POV will present the national broadcast premiere of Homegoings on PBS (Check local listings)

Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings 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.

Read what critics and journalists have to say about the POV film that premieres on PBS Monday, June 24 at 10 PM ET, and will be streaming for free online June 25 to July 24.

“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

Homegoings brings to life the beauty and grace of African-American funerals.”
— The Chicago Tribune

“A tender PBS documentary. . . . Watching [funeral director Isaiah Owens’] gentle face . . . and hearing him explain that 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

“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

“There were time I laughed out loud and giggled, then there were times I was teary-eyed. . . .
Very moving.”
— Anne-Marie Green, host, CBS News “Up To the Minute”

“A lyrical, life-affirming film on the African-American way of death.”
Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

“A lovely documentary. . . . ‘I’ve been called to do this work by a higher power,’ Isaiah feels certain. . . . It’s this sense of justice and continuity that Homegoings makes especially vibrant.”
Cynthia Fuchs,

“A poetically crafted exploration . . . poignant, inspirational and unexpectedly uplifting.”
Lauren Wissot, Filmmaker Magazine

On June 24, at 10 PM, POV will present the national broadcast premiere of Homegoings on PBS (Check local listings). The film will be available for streaming on the POV website starting June 25, 2013 through July 24, 2013. Visit the Homegoings companion site to join the conversation about the film, get an update on the subjects, watch deleted scenes and read background information on the funeral industry and the rich tradition of African-American funeral directors.

For updates on the 2013 season of POV, subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs.

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • Susan Mayer Crawford

    I found the show fascinating. I just recently lost my brother to a heart attack and I found the funeral home and the makeup that they did was sorely lacking. The funeral home director featured
    in the show, made me wish I lived in Harlem, so that he could do my other family members viewings. The deceased looked so good, it was a total change from what I just went through. The show made me laugh, cry and just be glad that I watched it.

  • Midwesterner

    Yes, as described above, “tender”, “poetically crafted exploration”, “a lovely documentary”, “uplifting”…all of those things and more. End of life rituals become more important to us as we age I think. You don’t appreciate the art of a good and decent undertaker until you hear stories of disaster that leave the family traumatized. Mr. Owens who considers his work a holy calling is the best kind of guide through this life transition.

  • Michael

    Great Show. Mr. Isaiah Owens is a blessed.

  • Gale

    It was nice to finally see how we black folks bury our dead. Someone has got to do it why not someone who is called like

  • California

    BRAVO! This film made me cry and very proud of Mr. Owens for being a loving caregiver for the dead. Thank-you, PBS and Owens family for sharing and showing that we all have traditions. I would enjoy watching the Owens Funeral Home as an ongoing reality t.v. show.

  • Lynne

    I Loved this film! Truly so well done. I was so moved by all of it and I learned and loved all. Thank you to all who participated and shared and especially thank you to Mr Owens for your heart and soul and your gift which you so lovingly share and with which you comfort so many. You are an incredible man and I am honored to have learned of you and your journey so far on this earth. Your childhood ritual.. the imagination you used and the love put into it all moved me so much. I loved all of it. Your Mom too..what a wonderful woman.. and she raised a wonderful son. This was just such a well done film and left me deeply moved. I am grateful to all who made it and shared so much in order to tell such a beautiful story.

  • Anonymous

    I also recently lost my brother and this film made me appreciate the work that my own funeral home did for him and my family. Mr. Owen’s passion for this art is something to truly be inspired by. No matter what your passion, follow it and you will succeed. What a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • Anonymous

    I wish that my people would spend money on education rather than wasting it on elaborate homecoming. homecoming to be put into the ground, making funeral directors the fat cats in the black neighborhood. people, this is all there is, no ethereal sky day no streets paved with gold. we need to worry about demanding justice here on earth instead of waiting for some justice in some ethereal heaven. I never go to funerals I can’t stand the gnashing of teeth beating of breast. once u are dead that is it. I am donating my body to science. my religious nut family are having a fit about that. lol.
    we waste money on fake hair, cars, clothes we can’t afford and funerals

  • Kirbi

    The ritual that occurs after death is important to life-great documentary.

  • viewer

    “homegoings” is a visual representation of this scripture from the Holy Bible: it is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to heart. ecclesiates 7:2. though i didn’t expect it to be, this film was a source of comfort and encouragement to me. thank you for making it.