In Quebec, residents of the former town of Asbestos find their stories cast in shadow by the feared resource that shaped its landscape.

Director’s Vision for ‘Once the Dust Has Settled’

Years after the mine’s closure, I became fascinated by the town of Asbestos’ paradoxical state. On the one hand, citizens remained deeply attached to a mining culture, developed over many generations, that was slowly fading; on the other hand, the entire world rejected the very idea of this place, as if its name became the perfect symbol of industrial disaster.

How does one document such conflicting views? Is it possible to appreciate the experience of a community whose entire history was devoted to the exploitation of what is nowadays a feared and despised natural resource? What stories today are the most valued by these women and men we seem so eager to silence?

My aim with this film was to stay as close as possible to what I believe is cinema’s most fundamental purpose: recording images and sounds to document the existence of a disappearing culture.

The former city of Asbestos is a powerful reminder of impermanence. I wanted to express this idea through an overarching film editing strategy: carving, so to speak, the fleeting voices of Asbestos’ residents into moving images that would evoke the vertigo of geological time.

In other words, this film is articulated around a contrast of time scales: the ephemeral nature of human existence and the vastness of geological time.