Departures (2008) — Japan
Right after young Diago landed his dream job as a cellist, the orchestra dissolved. His loving wife agrees to leave the big city and return to their provincial town, where Diago answers a want ad for "departures NK." He thought it was for a travel agency, but because of a misspelling the ad should have read "departed," and the NK stands for "Nokanshi" — Japan's version of an undertaker who, through a carefully choreographed ceremony, prepares the body of the deceased before the bereaved family. At first he is repulsed, and both friends and his wife urge him to get a "real" job that's not so socially embarrassing. But throughout the course of the film Diago learns a vocation filled with its own artistry, tenderness, gratitude, and life itself. The film invites comparisons with western and even Christian treatments of death. Departures has won numerous film festival awards, including an Academy Award for best foreign film. In Japanese with English sub-titles.