The Coffin Club

A group of rebellious, creative Kiwi seniors give death the finger, one crazy coffin at a time.

Musical and documentary unite to introduce The Coffin Club, a truly unique community organisation bringing free-spirited seniors together to construct and personalise their own low-cost coffins. Based in small town New Zealand, with over 60 active members, this group of inspirational elderly meet once a week to rejoice in life while facing the realities of death.

This warm and humorous story enters a lively community of seniors who live life as if each breath was their last.

Director’s Statement

I’ve always been a little afraid of ageing and I’ve often felt nervous and uncomfortable at funerals, so when I heard about the Kiwi Coffin Club I was immediately intrigued and wanted to meet the people behind it.

The founding director Katie Williams welcomed me with open arms. No doubt she had a lot to say on the subject of life and death having been both a hospice nurse and a midwife. Now over 10 years old, the club has taken off both in New Zealand and around the world and Katie is constantly inundated with media requests and interviews. It’s as if her unique idea, born in the back of her garage, has started a quiet revolution changing the culture of funerals.

I decided to make the film in the style of a documentary musical as I thought that the mix of genres would bring another dimension to the film’s themes and demonstrate that there is still so much to laugh about and celebrate when facing one’s mortality. I also think that the Loading Docs initiative provides an opportunity to experiment with the documentary form.

We have been utterly amazed and in awe of our cast of seniors who have had the courage to sing and dance and perform for the camera. Everyone featured in the film is a member of the Kiwi Coffin Club and our oldest dancer is going on 94! Their vitality for life and willingness to give things a go puts many of us younger folk to shame. I really hope I can be like them one day!

Our ultimate intention for making this short is to give these incredible seniors some deserving screen time and hopefully inspire other community groups to set up their own clubs and initiatives.

To learn more about the Kiwi Coffin Club and how to start one you can visit their website.