PRODUCER: Adam Pajot-Gendron, Tortuga Films




Hwangsa is a documentary feature film that traces the journey of yellow dust, originating in China’s Gobi Desert as stormclouds that evaporate the skylines, swallowing up everything in sight. These tsunamis of dust travel thousands of kilometres on the wind, impeding daily life by contaminating the air across China, Korea and Japan. And the dust is now making its way to Canadian shores.

Told from the point of view of a cinematographer with an intimate relationship to nature, the film unfolds backwards over time and space as I set out with my camera to uncover the mystery of the yellow dust: where did it come from? Why is it here? I travel from my stunning and pristine hometown of Texada Island, BC, to the largest deposit of Asian dust in Canada, found in the ice cores of the Yukon. Heading west, I cross the Pacific to Japan where I discover an ominous yellow haze looming over Tokyo. Determined to find the source of this yellow cloud, I move deeper into Asia. In Seoul, South Korea, in lieu of the bloom of Spring I am met with a dense, yellow fog enveloping the city and its surrounding countryside. Arriving in China, I struggle to breathe the thick air full of dust and pollutants in Beijing. I set out to explore the drying grasslands of Xilin Gol and the tree-planting region at the edge of the Kubuqi Desert. Finally, I embark into the heart of the Gobi Desert, on the brink of a dust storm known in Chinese and Korean languages as hwang:yellow / sa:dust.

Throughout the journey I explore the sensory and psychological experience of life under hwangsa. At each stop I obsess over the dust, probing and examining it from all angles and incarnations, from painterly panoramas of vast desert landscapes to a single particle under a microscope. Hwangsa captures the winds of climate change, as I wrestle to understand the larger implications of the tiny fleck of dust landing on the shores of my hometown.

Hwangsa is currently completing the development phase with pre-development support from to Canadian Media Fund and development support from SODEC. Check back for updates about Hwangsa as we move into production!