DIRECTOR'S NOTE
1991 has not only seen the birth of an independent Ukrainian state but, for the first time in many decades, allowed former Soviet Union citizens to freely leave the country. This started an unprecedented mobility in the region driven by the work and earning opportunities abroad. Today, there are an estimated 1,7 - 3 million Ukrainians working abroad at any given time, but the ways to employment remain not always formal, legal or safe. The reasons for the death of labour migrants, - people who leave in a hope to earn money for better lives - often fall under tabooed topics, such as suicides, substance abuse, work accidents, accidents related to exhaustion. In the case of Ukrainians, who often have to pay fees for employment abroad, the cost of the transportation of a deceased family member is a costly, if not unaffordable business. Sometimes, the bodies of people who pass away remain forever unclaimed, buried after a while at the cost of a local municipality somewhere around the world. For their families, it is often seen as an ultimate cost, and a trauma, in which the person who went abroad to better their life cannot get due recognition and respect even after death.
Funeralia is a rare transnational business that seeks to fill in this gap. It started as an idea that emerged after Oleh, the founder of the company, worked as a gardener in an Italian company of undertakers. Today, Funeralia, has a fleet of 8 minivans and 15 drivers and offers services of transportation from all around the world, including Antarctica. Transporting over 100 bodies per month, Funeralia comes in touch with various social issues – the reasons of death, poor working and living conditions, hate crimes, the inequality of incomes and living standards, the bureaucratic procedures. By looking into the story of this migrant family business and the stories of their clients, the film seeks to touch upon some important questions: Social protection and risks in labour migration, social, physical and emotional cost of labour migration (psychological impact, impact of long hours, difficult working and living conditions, 3D jobs, separation and isolation); mobility regimes in Europe – regulating mobility of humans vs. biological bodies; dreams, imaginations and fears in migration (as a family project, involving those who move and those who stay behind).