Photo courtesy of A Good Deed Entertainment Film.

The Art of Dying Threshold Circle held its first film screening—and it was a memorable one.

We screened TO DUST, starring Matthew Broderick and Géza Röhrig, at the New York Open Center in collaboration with the Art of Dying Institute and then held a Q&A with the creative duo behind the film, director and writer Shawn Snyder and writer Jason Begue.

TO DUST, winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, focuses on a grieving Hasidic Jew named Shmuel and his obsessive need to understand what’s happening to his wife’s recently buried body. To help him achieve this unusual and blasphemous goal, he enlists the help of Albert, a biology professor at a local community college. As Albert’s initial reluctance turns into enthusiastic assistance, the unlikely pair embarks on a quest to discover the truth about decomposition and help Shmuel cope with his sudden and disorienting loss.

Photo courtesy of A Good Deed Entertainment Film.

The film deftly weaves drama, comedy, horror, and science throughout the story, switching seamlessly from moments of evocative sadness to laugh-out-loud funniness to squeamish fantasy to stark biological explanation.

Despite leaflets given out beforehand explaining the nature of the film, a few audience members walked out during the screening. But those who remained seemed to thoroughly enjoy the movie, and the Q&A afterward with the creators prompted a lively and thought-provoking discussion.

Special thanks to Thresholders Catharine DeLong and Tara Sroka for bringing this screening to life for us and the wider New York Open Center community.

What the Critics Are Saying:

“Shmuel and Albert may be the funniest odd couple since Broderick and Nathan Lane’s Leo Bloom and Max Bialystock.” – NY Post

“A masterpiece of tone, balancing comedy with depth and emotional measure”

Writers: Jason Begue, Shawn Snyder
Director: Shawn Snyder
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Géza Röhrig
Producers: Emily Mortimer, Alessandro Nivola, Ron Perlman, Josh Crook, Scott Lochmus

Rated R for language and some disturbing images.