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Star, Dust

Experimental/Narrative, Digital Stills, 1m46s, 2009

Writer/Director/Producer: Karen Hanson

We are stardust. Almost all the atoms that make up our bodies were once forged in stars that exploded in supernovae. Using still images from the 1970s (on which much dust had settled), this short video explores a constellation within.

Director/Producer's Statement


The idea for star, dust came to me when I stumbled upon a cardboard box bursting with 1970s skull X-rays destined for the shredder. After scanning the images, I began to look at the different segments of the skull - the nasal cavity, for instance, with its delicate, spiraling bones, and the dorsal spine of the neck, with its row of graceful curves. Up close, the porous parts of the bones looked cloudy, ethereal, like nebulae. The dust that had settled on the prints over the course of thirty-odd years formed miniature constellations.

star, dust moves from the macro to the micro, from what appears to be the vast expanse of outer space to the interior of the human skull. The video thus plays on Bachelard’s idea of "intimate immensity," of "what is large in what is small." It also points to the fact that human beings are essentially composed of stardust and, as such, are connected to the oneness of all being.

“There are no random events, nor are there events or things that exist by and for themselves, in isolation. The atoms that make up your body were once forged inside stars, and the causes of even the smallest event are virtually infinite and connected with the whole in incomprehensible ways.” (Eckhart Tolle)

In Another Way of Telling, John Berger writes: "An X-ray photograph of a wounded leg can tell the 'utter truth' about whether the bones are fractured or not. But how does a photograph tell the 'utter truth' about a man's experience of hunger or, for that matter, his experience of a feast." The same could be said about the X-ray portraits in star, dust. From the images alone, we can know very little beyond the purely scientific. Are the subjects still alive? Are they content in life? Have they found love? And whatever happened to the girl with the peace-sign earrings?

  • Platinum Remi for Best Experimental Short at 43rd Houston WorldFest
Selected Screenings
  • 43rd Humboldt Film Festival, USA
  • Renderyard International Film Festival, England
  • Midwest 3-Minute Film Festival, USA
  • Southern Appalachian International Film Festival, USA
  • International Thermaikos 2min Film Festival, Greece
  • Alternative Film/Video Festival, Serbia
  • Strange Beauty Film Festival, USA
  • Macon Film Festival, USA
  • Film Palace Film Festival, Bulgaria
  • Bangkok IndieFest, Indonesia