• Her International Film Festival - Ireland

  • Festival Som Cinema

    Special Jury Mention

  • Sitges Film Festival

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Spanish, English and Catalan with English subtitles

Not so long ago, postmortem photography was a way to mitigate the pain of the death of a loved one. The documentary Mrs. Death seeks to delve into this tradition by connecting with contemporary caretakers of these portraits and individuals who continue to find comfort in confronting mortality through visual representation. Through these personal narratives, the film offers a nuanced understanding of the emotional and cultural significance attached to this practice.

Death causes us so much fear and confusion that we can hardly look it in the face. In our antiseptic societies, pain and suffering tend to be covered up. It was customary to photograph the dead in places all around the world, from the United States and Europe to Latin America. Why has this practice fallen into disuse and is now considered as something macabre and insensitive?

About the Director
Silvia Ventayol holds a degree in Humanities from Pompeu Fabra University. She completed her training at the International Radio and Television School of San Antonio de los Baños (Cuba) and at the University of Barcelona with a postgraduate course in International Cultural Cooperation. From then on she has been a director, audiovisual scriptwriter, professor, and cultural manager.

Filmography: Mrs. Death (2021) Documentary, El archiduque y la pagesa (2016), La fábrica desaparecida (2013), Las cuevas de Bellver (2012).

Notes on Film

“I have been obsessed with this question for a long time but when you talk about it with certain people, you realize that you are not the only person haunted by the thought of death. The turning point -in which something happens creatively- was the day I lived in first person when a woman secretly showed me an old picture of a dead baby admitting that she could not bear to hang it on the wall. After the painting a hidden photo appeared, revealing to me the existence of an archive long forgotten and not understood.

Many people agree they have experienced a certain tension when they enquire about the origin of these photos. They are hard to find because they are usually hidden, broken, or disposed of. In 2001, the famous film The Others by Alejandro Amenábar showed these photos worldwide but I know that most people did not consider them real. On the other hand, I belong to a generation where we have hardly seen a dead person, and I am fascinated by the fact that until about 40 years ago, it was normal to paint or photograph your deceased in Mallorca, Iceland, or Mexico. At the same time, it interests me to know how private collectors have been able to give this type of photography an anthropological and aesthetic value and it amazes me that people still dare to photograph death carefully.”

– Sílvia Ventayol, Director