The Passing On
The Passing On is an intimate and loving exploration of an unlikely subject: the vanishing of Black funeral homes and one particularly notable embalmer, James Bryant. Understandably, this documentary could be easy to avoid based on its subject matter alone. In our society, death is something we rarely talk about, and the process afterward is even more taboo. However, as a jury, we were deeply moved by this exceptional film. Nathan Clarke’s graceful direction allows plenty of space for the dignity and humanity of Bryant and his embalming students to unfold. The Passing On encompasses so many transitions and their repercussions: the passing on of a trade and a tradition, a Black community facing gentrification, the shifting tides of LGBTQ acceptance, the ache of growing into one’s vocation and confidence, and, of course, the transition of the body itself from life to death. This is an unassumingly beautiful film and a real accomplishment.