THANOS magazine

Canada | November 20, 2023

To die for! A deep and comforting film about funeral professionals

It might interest our Canadian members to watch! After a successful tour of the festival circuit, Georges Hannan’s award-winning documentary “Undertaker for Life!” (“Croque-mort. Cest beau la vie !”) was launched on October 31, and is available indefinitely on

In this authentic film that’s full of humanity, Georges Hannan tackles a taboo subject and lifts the veil on an underappreciated world: that of the artisans of bereavement. By providing behind-the-scenes access to the funeral industry, he demystifies a profession we tend to view as grim. But undertakers are anything but gloomy; they’re funny, generous and dedicated. 

Alternating between earnestness and humour, the guardians of the shadows confide in each other with disarming frankness and raise questions that are more urgent than ever. As our increasingly individualistic society abandons long-standing rituals, how do we make sense of death, how do we mourn, how do we preserve remembrance? What answers can religions and various practices provide? In short, how can we cope with death in today’s world?

In a society where condolences can be sent by text and funerals scheduled in our free time, grieving is something we think we can avoid. Is this really the case? Those with a vocation to look after the dead will tell you otherwise. They know because at the end of the day, they spend much of their time watching over the living. Despite the somewhat frightening name of their occupation, undertakers are actually charming philosophers and keen observers of life. We only see their sombre side, but away from the funeral rites and on camera, they turn out to be amazingly insightful. Their love of life and the living, their dark humour and comforting wisdom are the best remedies against existential despair.

Subtle, moving and often hilarious, “Undertaker for Life!” shows the flip side of death. Against the backdrop of Georges Hannan’s superb photography and a musical score that’s as unpredictable as it is effective, these benevolent transporters, the undertakers, deliver a truth that transcends time: death, if it cannot be explained, at least allows us to understand life.

This film won the Léonard-Forest Prize for Best Acadian Feature-Length Work at the 2022 Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA), where it had its world premiere, and was selected to screen at the renowned Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. It recently became the first film from Acadie to win a Gémeaux award in the Best Documentary Program or Series: Society category.

About the film

"Undertaker for Life!" by Georges Hannan (52 min)

Produced by Christine Aubé for the NFB’s Quebec, Canadian Francophonie & Acadian Documentary Studio in Moncton

Film available with French with English subtitles on

Awards and Festivals

  • Laureate - Best documentary: Society at Prix Gémeaux 38th Edition
  • La Vague 2022 - Léonard-Forest best Acadian feature-length at Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie (FICFA)
  • Official Selection at HotDocs 2023
  • Official Selection at Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma 2023
  • Official Selection - Social/political Documentary at Yorkton Film Festival 2023

Watch trailer at  

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