Writers and editors from the New York Times discuss their unique approach to writing the obituaries of public figures.

Director:

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
2 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A look at the life and work of photographer Elsa Dorfman.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Elsa Dorfman
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A small financial institution called Abacus becomes the only company criminally indicted in the wake of the United States' 2008 mortgage crisis.

Director: Steve James
Stars: Neil Barofsky, Ti-Hua Chang, Margaret Colin
Documentary | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An exploration of the relationship between jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan and his common-law wife Helen, who was implicated in his murder in 1972.

Director: Kasper Collin
Stars: Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan, Wayne Shorter
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Both a biopic of a complicated man and an exploration of the gathering forces that converged to shape a new American cuisine and create the cult of "celebrity chef"... A consummate hedonist... See full summary »

Director: Lydia Tenaglia
Stars: Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Francesca De Luca
Risk I (2016)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The story of WikiLeak's editor-in-chief Julian Assange as seen by documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras.

Director: Laura Poitras
Stars: Julian Assange, Sarah Harrison, Jacob Appelbaum
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs fights to save historic New York City during the ruthless redevelopment era of urban planner Robert Moses in the 1960s.

Director: Matt Tyrnauer
Stars: Thomas Campanella, Vincent D'Onofrio, Mindy Fullilove
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Documentary on the great American Ballerina Wendy Whelan

Directors: Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger
Stars: Wendy Whelan
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Set over one summer, the film follows precocious 6-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.

Director: Sean Baker
Stars: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

The story of American poet Emily Dickinson from her early days as a young schoolgirl to her later years as a reclusive, unrecognized artist.

Director: Terence Davies
Stars: Emma Bell, Sara Vertongen, Rose Williams
Documentary | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Heineman
Stars: Hamoud, Hussam, Mohamad
Documentary | History | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A tour of the juke joints and other venues of the legendary Chitlin Circuit in the Mississippi Delta, including performances by aging blues musicians in their eighties who used to play the circuit.

Director: Daniel Cross
Obit (2012)
Short | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Director: Jazzez Jones
Stars: Lester Beamon, Alveta Ewell, Mike Jackson Jr.
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Bruce Weber ...
William McDonald ...
Margalit Fox ...
Herself
William Grimes ...
Himself
Jack Kadden ...
Douglas Martin ...
Himself
Jeff Roth ...
Daniel Slotnik ...
Himself
Paul Vitello ...
Himself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Peter Keepnews ...
Dolores Morrison ...
Herself
Jon Pareles ...
Himself
Earl Wilson ...
Himself
Edit

Storyline

How do you put a life into 500 words? Ask the staff obituary writers at the New York Times. OBIT is a first-ever glimpse into the daily rituals, joys and existential angst of the Times obit writers, as they chronicle life after death on the front lines of history.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

obituary | See All (1) »

Taglines:

An inside look at life on the New York Times obituaries desk. See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 April 2016 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$16,185 (USA) (28 April 2017)

Gross:

$304,191 (USA) (14 July 2017)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1 / (high definition)
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Soundtracks

The Typewriter
Written by Leroy Anderson
Published by Woodbury Music Company (ASCAP)
Published by BMG Gold Songs (ASCAP) in the United States of America and
administered by EMI Mills Music (ASCAP) throughout the rest of the world
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Who would have thought death could be so much fun?
12 July 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Maybe a sentence or two will be about the death." Obituarist

Dying is no fun, but the obit writers at the New York Times make the most of it. They treat the assignment as a celebration of life, a real life, a history of people who made differences in the lives of others. Additionally, more than the responsibility of finding out the facts of a life is getting the facts correct.

Obit is a surprisingly upbeat documentary about a decidedly downbeat subject. The reporters are animated about the celebration and the discoveries they uncover in their journalistic pursuit. Most of them were accomplished journalists who are chosen because that part of the paper has grown from a pasture for declining reporters to a field of artistic possibilities energized by the lives the reporters chronicle.

Much of the time they are going on gut feeling. When they reported on John Fairfax, the first to cross an ocean in a rowboat, they hit a goldmine because his life outside the rowboat was even more interesting.

In one of the most prominent obits, the somewhat discursive doc features the death of William Wilson, one of the first TV consultants, who advised JFK the night in 1960 when he defeated Richard Nixon by virtue of Kennedy's telegenic superiority, helped in no small part by Wilson's choice of such details as the makeup he hurried to buy at a pharmacy.

An interesting part of such obits as Wilson's is the choice for lead paragraph or the headline or where in the paper it should go--front page or obit section--and how long in words. These decisions are not fed into an algorithm but rather are the province of writers and editors who know history and culture well enough to make the decision.

The NYT is my favorite newspaper, so good that I read the obits along with the editorials. Such a gift to me ensures that my own obit will exude the joie de vivre we both share.


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page