Following the Cycle of Life and Death

Following the Cycle of Life and Death


Filmmakers Simpson Adams and Sher screen their new doc Oct. 1.

The falling leaves and shorter days alert us that the end (of the year) is near. Although nature’s cycle of death and regeneration—aka winter—is gentler hereabouts than in many parts of the country, we feel it acutely nonetheless. So the timing is spot-on to immerse one’s self in Oakland filmmakers Elizabeth Sher and Maggie Simpson Adams’ heartening new documentary.

Rituals of Remembrance: Exploring the Art of Mourning, as its title suggests, is a meditation on processing loss through celebration, closure, and community. After all, divining the lessons of death is often as challenging as discerning the meaning of life.

Rituals of Remembrance: Exploring the Art of Mourning, which screens on the afternoon of Oct. 1 at the New Parkway, contrasts three healing approaches to grief. The film looks back first at the Victorian era and the preoccupation with art and objects linked to the deceased. Creative presentation is also a key part of Dia de los Muertos, the vibrant Mexican holiday that brings everyone (including children) together to publicly honor their late ancestors and friends and, not incidentally, to ward off the fear and foreignness of death. Finally, mourners in places without longstanding traditions, like the West Coast, have taken it on themselves to construct meaningful ceremonies distinguished by from-the-heart art and a DIY ethos. Rituals of Remembrance, which was inspired by Simpson Adams’ disparate grieving experiences in the U.S. and Mexico, presents ways of viewing endings as renewals. Like winter, in a way.

Rituals of Remembrance: Exploring the Art of Mourning, Oct. 1, 12:40 p.m., New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St., Oakland, 510-658-7900,