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OBIT.

12:30   2:30   4:45   7:00   9:20

Wednesday, April 26 - Tuesday, May 9

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PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY VANESSA GOULD

When New York Times writer Bruce Weber comes into the office, the first thing he says is: “Who’s dead?” Times editor William McDonald, Weber, Margalit Fox, William Grimes, Douglas Martin, Paul Vitello, and others appear on screen — very much alive — in Vanessa Gould’s witty, eye-opening inside account of the ‘dead beat’ – the Times’s obituaries desk. According to Grimes, “dull, dry, responsible” copy was once the norm. Today, the paper’s obits are among the best-written, most-read articles, and an ever-fascinating showcase for notable lives and achievements, from Nobel Prize winners to the inventor of the Slinky. Gould lets us in on more than a few secrets: how subjects are ultimately chosen, who merits star placement, who has an “advance obit” (there are 1700 on file, kept under lock and key), and how the Times maintains its vast archive. Sole morgue-keeper Jeff Roth gives us a breathless tour of the paper’s century-old trove of clippings and photographs.

USA     2016    94 MINS.  KINO LORBER

Reviews

“An enjoyable behind-the-scenes look at one of journalism’s odder jobs.  Engaging and lively.”
– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

“Teems with colorful anecdotes.  Gould’s camera hovers as reporters research, call relatives and pitch pieces to editors. She mixes the fly-on-the-wall work with abnormally eloquent interviews — these are Times writers, after all — and splashes of archival footage to take us outside the cubicles. The film celebrates human achievement and human strangeness. It effuses an obit writer’s intellectual curiosity and itch for a good story.”
– Soheil Rezayazdi, Filmmaker Magazine

“An entertaining inside look at the obituary writers of The New York Times. Their chosen profession may still raise eyebrows in some circles, but Vanessa Gould’s doc makes a strong case for the well-wrought obituary as something of an art form.”
– Kevin Lally, Film Journal International