A quiet but exacting look at what has been deemed the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history, "Dust to Dust" chronicles the effects of asbestos mining on the town of Libby, Mont. The real shock is not the horrific death toll but the fact that the mining company knew about the lethal effects of asbestos dust yet took few precautions.

A quiet but exacting look at what has been deemed the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history, “Dust to Dust” chronicles the effects of asbestos mining on the town of Libby, Mont. The real shock is not the horrific death toll — more than 200 with hundreds of others facing highly uncertain futures — but the fact that the mining company knew about the lethal effects of asbestos dust yet took few precautions and did not inform anyone of the danger. Docu seems a sure bet for PBS or cable.

Tyro documentarian Michael Brown chooses his “talking head” footage well: The citizens of Libby come across as articulate, well informed, even witty. “Asbestos — put a little fiber in your life” reads the T-shirt of one man diagnosed with lung disease. Afflicted inhabitants include men, women and children with no direct or indirect connection to the mine. They testify with angry dignity about asbestos found in gardens, kids’ baseball diamonds, railroad tracks and roads, and speak of the company’s repeated assurances that the substance was safe. Old photos and home movies help personalize the community while reading in retrospect as signposts to disaster.

Dust to Dust

Production

A Michael Brown production. Produced, directed, written by Brown.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, video), Kevin Brown; editor, Kevin Brown; music, James Gaertner; computer graphics, animation and design, Rick Anderson. Reviewed on cassette at Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (Documentaries), Nov. 11, 2002. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Paul Kirby, narrator.
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