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Henry's Dream

Part of the 20th Annual Israeli Film Festival, "Henry's Dream," interweaves the conflicts of several families, both real and imaginary. The players involved discover that only by enacting both the truth and fiction can old demons be freed.

Henry (Menashe Noy) works in the equipment room of an Israeli film school. Once a professional technician in the film industry, he exasperates the pompous teachers by negating their "empty" theories to the students. The kids respect this sage, and it infuriates the teachers.

The Teachers mock Henry, leading him to a decision; he must make his own film.
Henry actually began a film many years ago, but during filming, his wife and their son Ami (Yonatan Hashiloni) were in a car accident. The death of his wife paralyzed him creatively and he could never return. Now remarried with a new child, Henry must return to his passion to prove his worth to himself and his family.
Ami, now an adolescent, appears fine but a deep pain remains inside his soul, one hindered by his frail relationship with his father.

Into this family drama arrives Geula, (Tahel Ran), a wheelchair-bound film student who has taken her only family's tragedies and reworked them into an espionage thriller. The script tells the true and harrowing story of Geula's father and twin's murder.
For the role of the Geula's grief stricken younger brother, Henry hires his own son, hoping to forge a stronger relationship with Ami.

Familial conflict intensify when Henry meets the man upon which Ami's role is based . The Geula 's brother, Schmuel, who resides in an institution, unravels another mystery for Henry, only complicating his film and his connection with his son.
Writer/Director Eitan Green fills "Henry's Dream" with many layers of inter-relationships and the inner workings of independent filmmaking. Green details the mechanics of filmmaking (dealing with location and equipment problems), and of acting (Henry teaching his son how to cry). He also illuminates the chores and joys of being a parent, the gestures of love, and the responsibility of aiding in their healing. The correlations between the script and real life intercept particularly when Henry focuses on why the son in the script is depressed, not recognizing that his own son's depression.
The script also creates surprises with some intriguing reversals. As the stress of filmmaking haunts Henry's sleepless nights, Amie begins to care for his dad. It is the mentally slow Schmuel who unlocks his family's secrets and even solves the filming's major location dilemma.

The cast is very strong, particularly Tamar Levi Elder as Shirly, the blowsy redheaded production assistant with aspirations for making the first existential porno film. When everything falls apart, Shirly shows great strength, keeping everything together.
Yonatan Hashiloni displays great sensitivity as the young boy who can't express his grief with anything but sound effects into a microphone. His quiet moments with his father and his final catharsis at the cast party are heart-wrenching.

Menashe Noy shows great compassion as the man trying to realize his own dream, while still hoping to repair his son's wounds. The scope of emotions (frustration, anger, love, disappointment, hope) comes to a head as the project crumbles. Noy brings empathy to his character's plight making Henry easily relatable.

"Henry's Dream" is a universal film, a story that could be told in any country. Humor and tenderness translate into any language and "Henry's Dream" will resonate with many struggling filmmakers and family members. Grade: A-

If you enjoyed "Henry's Dream," check out the independent comedy "Living in Oblivion," starring Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener

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