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Heartland: Dust

by on October 17, 2015
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"Dust" (2014), a science fantasy short film directed by Mike Grier and starring Masashi Odate, is now playing at the Heartland Film Festival.

For Heartland showtimes and tickets, please click here.

“Dust,” a science-fantasy short film directed by Mike Grier is set in an unnamed world similar to our own.  In this world, human beings’ use of technology has led to an imbalance in the natural world and resulted in dangerous mutations and adaptations in plants and wildlife. Trackers — humans who act as a sort of mix of evolutionary biologist and spiritual guide — seek to observe these changes and preserve the balance between mankind and the natural world.

As generations pass, mankind becomes more and more reliant on technology and the world outside their walled city grows wilder. A deadly sickness — carried by a mysterious dust — begins to spread like a plague throughout the countryside and finds its way into the city. As the city prepares to lock its gates and seal itself off as a last resort, a former Tracker named Irezumi (Masashi Odate) ventures out into the countryside in search of a cure. The journey leads him to his former village, the site of great personal tragedy … and the source of the sickness that threatens mankind.

“Dust” is a meticulously crafted science-fiction film, having been in development since 2007 and in post-production since 2010. The years of effort put into building the world of “Dust” shows. From the richness of the imagined world’s backstory to the lush visual effects and the impressive practical effects, sets and locations, “Dust” is beautifully conceived and executed filmmaking. “Dust” packs more science-fiction action and wonder into 22 minutes than most multimillion-dollar Hollywood films manage.

Odate grounds the film with an understated and earnest performance as the brave but bereaved Irezumi. A lesser actor might have played up the character’s spirituality so as to come across as the clichéd “noble savage,” shedding a single tear as he surveys the damage done by aloof, “civilized” men and their technology. Instead, Odate’s Tracker seems very much a part of world he is fighting to save.  It’s a refreshing take on the eco-warrior trope, and very much underscores the film’s theme that all life is inextricably connected.

Most great science fiction is, at its heart, a morality play that frames the ethical dilemmas of the current age in the futuristic allegory. Whether it is Gene Roddenberry’s optimistic vision of the future or Ray Bradbury’s critical and cautionary tales, sci-fi is usually at its best when it holds up a mirror to our society’s problems. “Dust” is a story of humanity looking inward for answers to those problems, as opposed to the gritty, shadowy reflections seemingly preferred by the popular dystopian sci-fi of recent years.

4.5 Yaps

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