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Film & Community Conversation: Loss & Legacy — The Business of Death

May 3, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm MDT

Event Series Event Series (See All)

Despite the commonality, and frankly, inevitability, of death, its taboo nature does not lend itself well to emotional or practical preparation. Death is a topic that the media rarely touches – at least in terms of the day-to-day practicalities of death work. 

In this second event in our Loss and Legacy series, we’ll watch a documentary that lays bare this “mysterious” process.  Raw, honest, and void of pretense or the kind of sentimentality typically encountered in Hollywood films about death, this award-winning documentary (Special Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival) offers a real world look into what happens behind-the-scenes and the kinds of considerations and logistical tasks in play. 

In lieu of a narrative arc, and told from the perspective of death workers, the documentary provides vivid snapshots of who gets called when a deceased person is discovered, how possessions are handled, and what happens when a body is unclaimed and/or there is no next of kin.

Over the course of our gathering, we’ll divide the documentary into three sections, spending time after each to have a focused community discussion prompted by questions raised in the scenes. At the close of the film, we’ll have a larger philosophical discussion about the practical endeavor of death work and some of the questions about life & death (and how we relate to others) that it raises.

In addition to providing a warm, philosophical forum for exploring death, this documentary invites rich thoughts about what goes into how to prepare ourselves and others, what roles people play & the impact of such work, and some of the broader social & philosophical considerations therein.

Note: Given the nature of this documentary, you will encounter sensitive images, including visuals such as maggots, decaying skin, and plastic-wrapped bodies.  As such, unlike our normal gatherings, we are not planning on offering any food/snacks.  We will, however, have water and hot tea.

Our film & community conversation will be held in the evening in Reeder’s Alley Convention Center and facilitated by Merlin Student Scholar Fellow Julianna Breit.


Date: Wednesday, May 3rd  
Time: 6pm-8:30pm (Doors open at 5:45pm)
Cost: FREE (donations welcome)


Location:  Reeder’s Alley Conference Center
Address: 101 Reeder’s Alley (at the top of the walkway

Sponsors & Community Partners

Thank you to our symposia series community sponsors BWP Helena Great Northern Hotel and  Helena Civic Television, to our community partners Helena Avenue Theater, to our grantors the Helena Area Community Foundation, the Philosophy Learning & Teaching Organization, and Humanities Montana, and to our donors and the Helena community.

Make a Donation Here

Our philosophy symposia are FREE.  That said, if you have the income to do so, we could use your financial support.  Donations help to cover symposia honoraria, implementation, resource archiving, and more!  You can make a donation by clicking here or on the button above. We greatly appreciate your generosity and kindness & for helping us keep programs like these going!


May 3, 2023
6:00 pm - 8:30 pm MDT
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Reeder’s Alley Interpretive & Convention Center
101 Reeder's Alley
Helena, MT 59601 United States


Marisa Diaz-Waian
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