The Atlantic shared a look at The Columbarium, which is a documentary that delves into the story of the San Francisco Columbarium, otherwise known as the Neptune Society Columbarium. It's one of the very few remaining places in the city where people can be laid to rest, and as such, it occupies this very curious niche in the city's history — much like the niches which house the urns inside the Columbarium itself.
The documentary, which was created by Tyler Trumbo back in 2014, is a beautifully-shot short film that made its rounds on the film festival circuit through 2015. In it, Trumbo places longtime caretaker Emmitt Watson front and center, where he delivers an evocative, heart-touching account of what it means to take care of a place like that. His views on death and what it means to be remembered after we are gone are intriguing, to say the least, and they're paired expertly with shots of the Columbarium itself, captured on 16mm film.
According to the Atlantic, Trumbo spoke about death and the documentary, saying, "Death has always been a curiosity to me. How do we remember those who have has passed? How do we distill a loved one's life? It’s an often overlooked and fascinating form of storytelling." In a chat with KQED, Trumbo described his emotions upon entering the Columbarium for the first time. He said:
The emotional weight of being physically surrounded by death overwhelmed me when I first walked into the Columbarium. Yet, the space began to change once I took time to examine individual niches and see the vibrant and passionate tokens of people’s lives. The anxiety of death was replaced with a warm curiosity to explore.