Death, Life and Writing: Director Vanessa Gould

  Vanessa Gould speaking with Professor Betsy West at the Columbia Journalism School's Film Fridays Series. 

Vanessa Gould speaking with Professor Betsy West at the Columbia Journalism School's Film Fridays Series. 

"It struck me how quickly the facts of a life just start to immediately disappear when someone dies."

Vanessa Gould was making a documentary about a French sculptor, Eric Joisel, when she learned he was sick, and was nearing the end of his life. After his death, Gould was devastated to learn that there was barely any information about his life published. And no one was speaking about his life and art—except one obituary writer at The New York Times.

As the Gould tracked down the details of Joisel's life, she began working closely with the Times team, and the people who spend their careers writing about death—and life. In 2016, Gould released her documentary "Obit," a touching of the New York Times Obituaries Desk, and the small team tasked with writing profiles of the recently deceased, famous or otherwise forgotten.

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