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Shattering Stars

Director: Peter Galison

United States, 2021, 13 min

Shooting Format:HD

Festival Year:2023

Category:Documentary Short

Genres:Documentary, Astronomy

Crew:Produced and Directed by: Peter Galison. Edited and CoProduced by: Chyld King. Art Direction and Animation by: Shiv Kachiwala. Written by: Peter Galison, Chyld King, Shiv Kachiwala. Voices of: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Daniel Kennefick, Priyamvada Natarajan. Text from the writings of Arthur Eddington performed by: Malcolm Ingram. Associate Producer: Nicole Terrien. Storyboards, Film Pre-Viz, Character Design, Compositing & Color: Shiv Kachiwala. Illustrations: Shiv Kachiwala, Vichi Parekh. Digital Tracing: Sanket Patel, Bhadresh Shingala, Vichi Parekh. Background Shadow & Light Painting: Ketan Soni, Shiv Kachiwala. Kennefic and Natarajan audio recording: Steve Bores. Supervising Sound Editor/Re-Recording Mixer: Coll Anderson M.P.S.E.. Dialog Editor: Duncan Clark. Sound Effects Editor: Katrina Henson. Music by: Ehren Starks. Archival Material Interview of S. Chandrasekhar by Spender Weart, May 1997


1930, Madras, India. On a steamship to England, 19-year-old Indian physics prodigy, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar makes a paradigm-shattering discovery about the life cycle of stars: a discipline pioneered by Sir Arthur Eddington, the world’s most famous astronomer and Chandra’s new advisor. After years of work under his mentor's watchful eye, Chandra presents at a public forum, only for Eddington to denounce his protégé and his work. A half-century later, after a more conservative career, Chandra is awarded the Nobel Prize for the work begun on board that ship to England. Grounded in his recorded memories, “Shattering Stars” alternates between realistic and imaginary animation.

About the director

Peter Galison is a renowned author, physicist, and filmmaker with a long-standing interest exploring the intersection between film and science. Galison is a professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University, the incoming director of the Black Hole Initiative and a member of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. His current research is on the history and philosophy of black holes and, in a second project, on the changing relation of technology to the self. Among his films are “Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma” (with Pamela Hogan); with Robb Moss, he directed and produced “Secrecy” which premiered at Sundance (2008), and “Containment” (2015), about guarding radioactive materials for 10,000 years. Galison collaborated with artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, “The Refusal of Time” (2012). Galison has just completed a third feature documentary, “Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know, ” now available on Netflix, AppleTV and Google Play.

Website Filmography

Filmmaker's note

Over the years I have been endlessly fascinated with the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction. I’ve tried, in ever-greater measure, to use animation in novel ways within the strictures of documentary, from Secrecy and Containment (with Robb Moss) and more recently with Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know (2020). During this last year of not being able to film, I tried an experiment—making a purely animated film that oscillates between a subjective-imaginary and a documentary-mimetic style. Still black holes, but in a very different register.

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