|A Second Final Rest: The History of San Francisco's Lost Cemeteries
Format: 16mm optical sound film, color
Length: 46 minutes, 16 seconds
Year of Production: 2004
Following the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, San Francisco rose from its own ashes to become one of the liveliest cities in America. How is it that it also managed to banish nearly all of its dead? A Second Final Rest: The History of San Francisco's Lost Cemeteries exhumes the hidden history of how this modern metropolis managed to systematically relocate nearly all of its burial grounds to make room for the living. Through recollections of residents who remember these forgotten graveyards to reflections on present-day conflicts that pit the living against the dead, A Second Final Rest reveals an astonishing chapter in the history of the American West in which those who settled the City by the Bay were unceremoniously sent packing long after they had passed from this world to the next.
Shown at festivals and numerous public and private screenings, A Second Final Rest has captivated viewers in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, and is a reminder that fact can be far stranger than fiction. It will intrigue history buffs, scholars, and anyone with a taste for macabre tales of how the dead continue to assert their presence in the world of the living.
- Best Historical Documentary -- 2005 San Francisco Women's Film Festival
- Best Documentary Feature Award -- 2005 Arizona International Film Festival -- Tucson, AZ
- October 13, 2004 -- PREMIERE at the Exploratorium science museum -- San Francisco, CA
- December 5, 2004 -- San Francisco State University, August Coppola Theater
- January 2005 -- Community screening at the Colma Historical Association -- Colma, CA
- January 19, 2005 -- Screening for the semi-annual members meeting of San Francisco Architectural Heritage
- April 9, 2005 -- FESTIVAL PREMIERE -- 1st annual San Francisco Women's Film Festival
- April 16, 2005 -- Community screening at the San Francisco Public Library, main branch, Koret Auditorium. Presented in conjunction with the San Francisco Public Library History Center
- April 20, 2005 -- Arizona International Film Festival -- Tucson, AZ
- August 21, 2005 -- Community screening at Cypress Lawn Cemetery -- Colma, CA
- September 20, 2005 -- 9th annual MadCat Women's Film Festival -- San Francisco, CA
- September 22, 2005 -- Cemetery and Mortuary Mangers Association of California Conference -- Monterey, CA
- October 11, 2005 -- San Francisco Museum and Historical Society
- October 25, 2005 -- San Francisco History Association
- November 5, 2005 -- Saint Mary's Episcopal Church -- San Francisco, CA
- November 14, 2005 -- City College of San Francisco film editing course
- November 15, 2005 -- City College of San Francisco screenwriting course
- January 26, 2006 -- San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association
- April 28, 2006 -- Society of California Archivists Conference -- San Francisco, CA
- May 31, 2006 -- Victorian Alliance members meeting -- San Francisco, CA
- September 28, 2006 -- University of California, Berkeley Archivists Group meeting -- Berkeley, CA
- October 26, 2006 -- California Historical Society -- San Francisco, CA
- October 28, 2006 -- Femina Potens Gallery -- San Francisco, CA
- March 3, 2007 -- Nuestras Raices Literary Arts Festival -- Tucson, AZ
- July 19, 2007 -- Presentation in University of California, Berkeley History of Art N186C Class ("The Politics of Display") -- Berkeley, CA
- October 27, 2007 -- Oddball Film + Video Halloween Screening -- San Francisco, CA
- January 31, 2008 -- Hayward Area Historical Society, as part of the Dearly Departed exhibit -- Hayward, CA
- April 22, 2008 -- Private screening for the Westerners International, San Francisco Corral -- San Francisco, CA
- November 18, 2008 -- University of San Francisco -- San Francisco, CA
- November 19, 2008 -- History Guild of DalyCity/Colma -- Daly City, CA
- February 21, 2009 -- "Unseen/Unsaid: Peeling Back the Layers of the Unmentionable", a one-night art installation event -- Climate Theater, San Francisco, CA
- October 23, 2011 – Private screening in Daly City residence (20 attendees)
- October 27, 2012 – San Francisco Columbarium, in conjunction with the Obscura Society, San Francisco Chapter
- October 31, 2014 – Tenth anniversary screening, Balboa Theater, San Francisco, CA
- May 16, 2015 – Screening for the California Genealogical Society, Oakland, CA
- June 10, 2015 – Screening at Paxton Gate store – San Francisco, CA
A Second Final Rest: The History of San Francisco's Lost Cemeteries examines one small facet of the city's history, but speaks to the tremendous upheaval it has endured over the years. A town of constant reinvention from the Gold Rush to the present that began in the east and pushed to the west, it was defined by one interviewee as "Manifest Destiny in a microcosm". As development swept toward the Pacific, pioneers filled the bay to create more acreage, leveled hills to allow for construction, and claimed the lands of the dead even before 1870. While the cemeteries remained ahead of westward expansion for decades, there was nowhere after the late 1800s for them to go except, with notable exception, up and out of town.
The disposal of tombstones following the cemetery removal became, like rubble from the 1906 earthquake and fire, a layer of strata easily visible on the city's shores. In time, these remnants will vanish underneath the vestiges of the next development scheme or catastrophic seismic event. And San Francisco will continue to transform in drastic ways, a reflection of its inhabitants' dreams.
The most rewarding aspect of this film was talking to the elderly who recounted their interactions with the former cemeteries. They illuminate the tale of postmortem diaspora, and provide insight into a San Francisco that younger generations have never known. These individuals are also aging and dying, and their stories are going with them. Several of them asked why I was concerned with their stories, and when I replied that they were the only ones who could possibly possess and transmit their them, they suddenly appreciated their place in this history.
A Second Final Rest is a story of spooks, a truth stranger than that which many can imagine. It hearkens back to the film Poltergeist with its famous line that goes something like "They moved the tombstones, but they forgot to move the bodies!" But it also speaks to the dreams of a restless world and the desire to leave a mark in it before we depart. Whether there is room for the living and the dead to coexist as the years pass remains to be seen. I hope A Second Final Rest generates more questions than it answers, and reminds viewers to ponder humankind's effects upon the earth now and after death, and to appreciate life while there's still time.