|A HANDFUL OF DUST|
|East Coast Premiere|
|Director: Grayson Whitehurst|
United States, 2018, 18min
Format: Digital (screening) - Digital, ARRI Alexa Mini (shooting)
Festival Year: 2019
Category: Short Narrative
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|Cast: ||Eileen Weisinger, Atticus Cain, Dannah Basgall|
|Crew: ||Producers: Taylor Haley, Claire Stacy - Screenwriters: Grayson Whitehurst - Director of Photography: Jackson Tisi - 1st Assistant Director: Graham Litten - Production Designer: Rachel Brown - Costume Designer: Elena Lark - Original Music: Gavin Brivik - Colorist: Kath Raisch of Company 3 - Steadicam/Cam Op : Calvin Falk - 1st Assistant
Dr. Neal Goodman enables terminal patients' right to die through the practice of mercy killing via his one-of-a-kind device. But when he sets out to fulfill a mother's request to euthanize her "terminally-ill" daughter, he discovers that his procedure is the crux of an elaborate cult ritual that tests his ethics like never before.
Grayson Whitehurst is an award-winning filmmaker who recently graduated from The Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film/Television at New York University. His narrative work has toured festivals worldwide and gone viral more than once, and his latest project, a MasterCard advertisement featuring Red Bull Athlete and WSL 2018 Ride of the Year surfer Ian Walsh, aired during the Masters. Beyond directing commercial and narrative short form, Whitehurst is currently working on developing his debut feature.
A HANDFUL OF DUST is inspired by a number of things: the real experiences of Jack "Dr. Death" Kevorkian, films of the occult like Ben Wheatley's KILL LIST and Robin Hardy's THE WICKER MAN, and, perhaps most significantly, what it feels like to lose someone close and have no control over their own demise.
I lost both of my parents before the age of twenty one and, to this day, I struggle with accepting the fact that i couldn't prevent it. I could identify their vices, but I couldn't change them on a fundamental level. I thought there was a tangible design behind repairing what was broken in each of their lives. But I discovered that there was no design, and, even worse, there were no rules.
A Handful of Dust functions as a reflection on this discovery, primarily through the overwhelming sense of doom that follows Dr. Goodman from the moment he enters Lilith's domain and the tragedy that ensues. He progressively realizes that he has no handle over the situation he's found himself in, and that there's a very malicious logic at play. The rules of his procedure - that the patient must be terminal, ensuring that they are comfortable with their decision, etc. - are manipulated. The foundations of his benevolence are undermined, and before he can do anything to stop it, itís too late. His tragic fate has sealed itself.
It's this sentiment - one defined by a total loss of control and inescapable fate - that envelops me constantly and inspires the creative energy behind this film.