What happens to the homeless when they die? The Potter's Field is a documentary that follows a group of high school students in Louisville, KY who volunteer to give funeral services for the homeless, unknown and otherwise indigent members in their community.
Directed by: Edward Heavrin
Co-Directed by: Nick Weis
Executive Producer: Gill Holland
Executive Producer: Alex Koch
Associate Directors: Daniel Light, Julie Dobbins, Rick Wigginton
Creative Consulting: Everett Brodbeck, Robert Heavrin, Stephen Kertis, Conrad Newman, Kacie Miller
Music by: Phourist, Ben Sollee, Cabin
Special Thanks: Beverly Heavrin, Don Heavrin, Debby Weis, Patrick Weis, Tara Weis, Sandy Bauer, Scott Barber, Bobby Nichols, Cory Kress, Sarah Patterson, Kathleen Schulte, Linda Remington, Lindy Barber, Ashleigh Barber, Carol Deering, Terri Plummer, Carrick Arehart, Jason Loehr, James Meyer, Katie Scott, Houston Barber, Emmet Monaghan, Walter Urbach, DJ Nichols, Joyce Lavelle, Joe Chiles, Susan Nash, Melinda Hunt, Claire Yaffa, Owen Funeral Home, Trinity High School, Assumption High School, St. X High School, Nick Covault, Heine Brother's Coffee, Scott Holzknecht, Robert Eiden, Emily Groves, Drew Hilliard, George F Mayfield, Ryan Usher, Nathan Donohue, Wesley Turner-Harris, David Wright, Paul Goatley, Christine Vaughan, Dawn Dones, Michelle Jones, Brooke Beasley, Kim Sorise, Beth Niblock, Scott George, Lauren Whaley, Patty Schmitt, Kala Spangler, Bill Felty, Chris Tolbert, Wesley Jones, Eden Brent, Jennifer Hubbard, Margaret Laracy, Bryan Barber, Joan Holzknecht, Barb Childers, Hopkins Family, Kristen Glassner, Robert Silliman, Nicholas Fenell, Buddy Dumeyer, Kenny Hardin, Ben Kresse, Noah Hewitt-Ball, Sarah Welder, Marla Sweitzer, Lindy and Bill Street, Oliver and Nancy Barber, Coalition for the homeless, Ambassador Shabazz *& many more*
Tags: New York City Homeless NYC NY Skid Row San Fransisco LA Los Angeles Hart Island
Somebody once said that you can tell a lot about how a society treats its living by the way it treats its dead. Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to homeless people when they die? You probably haven’t. This film answers that question.
Apparently, the homeless have become such a common sight that most people no longer see them. If they can’t be seen, then that means that hardly anybody body cares about what they’re going through and hardly anybody is willing to reach out a helping hand.
Of all the people that were interviewed randomly on the street, only one man seemed to be able to answer the question: do you know what happens to homeless people when they die? This man spoke about a place called The Potter’s Field, where he’d heard that the people who had no insurance would end up.
The Potter’s Field is a large, barren plot of land just outside Chicago. A U-Haul truck pulls up to a large hole and workmen start unloading plain ‘coffins’ into the hole. They’re all identical and ugly — impersonal, nameless, faceless just like the precious cargo they contain. They will all be buried as John Doe or Jane Doe. The only certain information is their date of death, and even that can be a wild guess. Nobody knows anything else about any of them, and nobody will ever be able to find anybody because they’re packed together in one big massive hole. In Chicago about 250 indigents are buried like that per year.
These homeless people lost their identity long before they died, though. They slowly became just another inconvenience that most passersby try hard to ignore. Nobody knows their stories and what situations led them to end up in those conditions.
Then in 2006 a group of men and women stepped up to the plate and formed a society. The people who join, do so voluntarily. They’re all students and teachers from seven different high schools in Louisville, Kentucky and their goal is to offer a decent funeral to these faceless men and women. Of course, usually only the volunteers show up to the short service— there’s nobody else there. Is it because these people had become invisible to their own kinfolk too?
One deputy coroner states that about 80% of the time when he’s finally able to find family members, they don’t seem too interested in taking care of their dead or in participating in the funeral services.
If nobody is going to show up, does it still make sense to invest time and money in a service? Because aren’t funeral supposed to offer closure to the living?
Watch this polemic documentary now.
Directed by Edward Heavrin
Co-Directed Nick Weis
Produced by Gill Holland and Alex Koch
Associate Prod. Rick Wigginton and Julie Dobbins