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Year: 2004
USA: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distribution
Cast: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Hayden Panettiere, Ryan Kelley, Michael Angarano, Kim Myers, Peter Horton, Ayanna Berkshire, Robert Blanche
Director: Eric Small
Country: USA
USA Rated: PG for thematic elements and some scary images
USA Release Date: 15 October 2004 (Limited Release)


THE DUST FACTORY is an adventure about the love and friendship between two teenagers who help each other through a difficult time in their lives.

Ryan Flynn (Ryan Kelley) is a wondrous young boy who hasn't spoken since witnessing his father's death at the age of nine. Even though his world is silent, Ryan, now thirteen, has formed a unique bond with his best friend Rocky (Michael Angarano), his mom Angie (Kim Myers) and his stepfather Lionel (Peter Horton). They all respect the world he lives in, never treat him as though he's different, and encourage him to find the things in his life that he enjoys.

It seemed like any other summer day. Ryan and Rocky have taken off for a day of fishing at the lake nearby. With Ryan on in-line skates and Rocky on his bike, they race to their favorite fishing spot. The shortcut to the lake is over an old rickety bridge that Rocky is always hesitant to take. Ryan, on the other hand, races across. Tragically, the rotted wood gives way, and Ryan falls into the water below. Underwater, Ryan has been knocked unconscious and is magically transported to a fantasy realm known as The Dust Factory. A place Ryan will soon find mirrors his fear of mortality.

As Ryan swims to shore, Rocky is nowhere to be found. He rushes home to find the house he grew up in quiet, his mom absent, and his grandfather sitting quietly in his bedroom. They speak, which surprises both of them. Grandpa Randolph (Armin Mueller-Stahl) has been suffering from Alzheimer's and hasn't spoken a word in years. This sparks curiosity in Ryan. Where is he? Is he dead? The young boy who hasn't said a word in years is now having a conversation with the grandfather he hardly knows and thought he had lost forever.

What follows for Ryan is a journey of courage, and it is built on dreams.

In this strange yet familiar world, Ryan meets Melanie (Hayden Panettiere), a precocious young beauty, who steals his heart. Together they embark on an adventure where they confront their fears and develop a friendship built on trust and love.

Melanie explains this enchanted new world to Ryan and introduces him to The Dust Factory: A big top where attempting a triple flip from the trapeze can send him back to the life he left behind--a life of uncertainty and fear. Ryan finds himself caught between "taking the leap" and staying in The Dust Factory with its endless days and the comfort of an unchanging landscape.

For a while, The Dust Factory seems to be the perfect fit. Melanie and Ryan teach one another to dance and laugh again, both finding a renewed joy in life. Ryan also spends time with his grandfather, who imparts his wisdom and knowledge to help Ryan make the right decisions for his own young life. Ryan, Melanie, and Grandpa all have different experiences to share with one another, and they are all in a place, somewhere between heaven and earth, with a very important decision to make. Ultimately, they all need to face the challenge of finding their way home.

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