Tender Funerals

Tender is a story that demanded a doco because it’s subject matter touches us all, eventually.

Tender is the story of one community teaching itself how to be as present in death as we have learnt to become in birth. They are not trained or equipped but they are willing to learn and what they learn they share throughout this film; during which one of their most loved members is diagnosed with lung cancer. As they struggle to take on the responsibility of end of life with dignity, humour and cost effectiveness, they do so with the imminent understanding that their friend Nigel is probably about to die. These two realities converge in Tender and they are a revelation in the power of community spirit.

Our film is the gift of the knowledge they gained and as such it is something we can all learn from. It is as funny as they are and as deep-hearted too. I didn’t know the community well when I began filming, I knew only my friend Jen, but I learnt to see why she loves them and why they, of all people, would grasp this nettle and hold on tight. And I came to know the very softly spoken Nigel who quietly placed himself at the heart of this film and let the camera keep rolling. He let us stay because he thought this subject mattered to everyone, and he was right. Tender is his legacy and our learning; his wish would be that its fire and incentive could bring about change.

- Lynette Wallworth

A Community Undertaking 

Since completing the film, the Port Kembla group have succeeded in setting up their fully functioning funeral service in the old fire station in Port Kembla, in their quest to offer an alternative funeral experience. The service is very successful and has aided so many people in their time of need. While there are many small, family-owned funeral homes in Australia, the largest multi-national company, InvoCare, is listed on the stock exchange. In the year of our production, its after-tax profit was $48.9 million dollars. InvoCare owns more than 220 funeral homes in Australia including Simplicity, Guardian and White Lady Funerals plus cemeteries and crematoria. Tender Funerals is a not-for-profit venture.