Tender - a Documentary

TENDER is a story that demanded a documentary because its subject matter touches us all eventually.

TENDER is the story of one community teaching itself how to be as present in death as we have learnt to become in birth. They are not trained or equipped but they are willing to learn and what they learn they share throughout this film, during which one of their most loved members is diagnosed with lung cancer. As they struggle to take on the responsibility of end of life with dignity and humour they do so with the imminent understanding that their friend Nigel is probably about to die. These two realities converge in TENDER and they are a revelation in the power of community spirit.

Set against the stunning backdrop of the industrial seaside town of Port Kembla, a feisty and resilient community group have determined to take back the responsibility that most of us leave to someone else – to care for their own dead. Scattered throughout are stories revealing why this small band have decided to take on a practice that for most is taboo. As their plans for community-based funerals gather momentum one of their own is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. TENDER is at once a heartbreakingly beautiful and beautifully funny glimpse of an extraordinary community taking on one of the most essential challenges of human life… its end.

Our film is the gift of the knowledge they gained and as such it is something we can all learn from. It is as funny as they are and as deep-hearted too. I didn’t know the community well when I began filming, I knew only my friend Jen, but I learnt to see why she loves them and why they, of all people, would grasp this nettle and hold on tight. And I came to know the very softly spoken Nigel who quietly placed himself at the heart of this film and let the camera keep rolling. He let us stay because he thought this subject mattered to everyone, and he was right. TENDER is his legacy and our learning; his wish would be that its fire and incentive could bring about change – Lynette Wallworth


Stream TENDER at Vimeo on Demand here

Production details


Produced with the assistance of the Adelaide Film Festival, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia Council for the Arts and Screen NSW.

Written and directed by Lynette Wallworth | Produced by Kath Shelper | 73 minutes

© 2013 Scarlett Pictures Pty Ltd, Lynette Wallworth and Adelaide Film Festival.