The Dust Factory is a 2004 film written and directed by Eric Small, starring Armin Mueller-Stahl, Hayden Panettiere, and Ryan Kelley.
Ryan Flynn, traumatized after losing his father, falls off a bridge into a river and apparently drowns, only to find himself in a strange place called the Dust Factory occupied by people on the verge of death. Ryan reunites with his grandfather (who in the real world has Alzheimer's), and meets a young girl called Melanie (who in the real world has a brain aneurysm) who's convinced the Dust Factory is under an endless winter - not something Ryan or his grandfather can see.
Their ultimate fates, like everyone there, will be decided in a strange circus where they leap across the arena into the arms of a trapeze artist; if they fall into the dust below (hence the title) they return to the land of the living, but if not...
Contains examples of:
- Circus of Magic: Each person dwelling in the Dust Factory must enter the circus pavilion and make a leap (a literal leap of faith) across the arena into the arms of a trapeze artist to proceed into death or return to life. The latter decision occurs when a participant falls into the arena during the leap, leaving behind a pile of dust.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Melanie.
- Or Was It a Dream?: After first Ryan and then Melanie leap into the dust, they meet in the real world (with no apparent memory of where they were) for seemingly the first time.
- The Place: The Dust Factory is the name of the parallel universe where Ryan finds himself after seemingly drowning.
- Repulsive Ringmaster: In the center of the Dust Factory is a circus pavilion whose Ringmaster is a figure of some authority and dread.