Film Descriptions




Directed by  Antonio Naharro and Álvaro Pastor (Spain, in Spanish w/English subtitles), 2009, 1h43)

The first European with Down syndrome to graduate from a university (with a degree in educational psychology), Daniel takes an office job in the Department of Social Services in Seville, Spain and falls in love with Laura on his first day at work. Laura is an outsider, a blowsy bleached blonde given to drinking and smoking too much. She spends her nights in the city’s crowded clubs and singles’ bars, escaping her problems with unsatisfying one-night stands with strangers. Yet despite their apparent incompatibility, the two strike up a moving, bittersweet friendship that touches them both and eventually changes their respective lives. A thought-provoking film that explores the difficulties and inner conflicts of integrating into everyday society and leading a normal life with Down syndrome.

Guest presenter/discussion leader: Dr. Ann Fox, Dept. of English, Davidson College



Directed by Ken Loach (UK, in English), 2016, 1h40.

Winner of the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm, the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival), the latest from legendary director Ken Loach is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. Gruff but goodhearted, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a man out of time: a widowed woodworker who’s never owned a computer, he lives according to his own common sense moral code. But after a heart attack leaves him unable to work, and the state welfare system fails him, the stubbornly self-reliant Daniel must stand up and fight for his dignity, leading a one-man crusade for compassion that will transform the lives of a struggling single mother (Hayley Squires) and her two children. Graced with humor and heart, I, Daniel Blake is a moving, much-needed reminder of the power of empathy from one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers.


Directed by Quan’an Wang (China, in Mandarin w/English subtitles), 2006, 1h26.

Peasant Tuya is a happily married mother of two with a herd of 300 sheep. Her husband Bater was permanently disabled while digging for water in the Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia) grassland that is fast vanishing as a result of desertification. One day, after hard-working Tuya collapses in the fields, the local doctor diagnoses her with a dislocated lumbar. Unable to care for her invalid husband, Tuya and Bater agree to divorce so that the ailing woman can wed a new man capable of caring for both of them. The only man, among several suitors, who seems willing to consider caring for both is divorced oil tycoon Baolier, who was long ago smitten by the attractive Tuya when they were in school together. But what are his true intentions?



Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japan, in Japanese w/English subtitles), 2018, 2h01.

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Shoplifters is about a Japanese couple who, stuck with part-time jobs and hence inadequate incomes, avail themselves of the fruits of shoplifting to make ends meet. They are not alone in this behavior. The children are in on the act too. After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them. . .

Guest presenter/discussion leader: Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer Arts Critic


Local Filmmakers Showcase: Jeffrey Mittelstadt, Staring Down Fate (2017, 1h41).

*Free for Davidson Film Club subscriber-members.

Staring Down Fate is an award-winning documentary film about the biologist Chris Lucash, a North Carolina biologist who battled a fatal disease (ALS) after spending his 29-year career trying to save endangered red wolves in the Great Smoky Mountains and in northeastern North Carolina.

Jeff Mittelstadt, the director of the film, is President of Wildsides, an award-winning non-profit organization that looks for common ground in conflicts between humans and wildlife. Jeff says that “the film is about searching for purpose in life and death, and in finding inspiration amid uncertainty.”

MAY 25


Directed by Christophe Barratier (France, in French w/English subtitles), 2004, 1h37.

Nominated for two Oscars, The Chorus tells the story of Fond de l’Etang, a boarding school for troubled boys located in rural France in the mid-twentieth century. The school is run by Mr. Rachin, a strict, self-centered disciplinarian. His approach does not seem to be working with this unruly bunch of boys. A new supervisor of students, Clément Mathieu, arrives. He is a mild middle-aged man whose passion is composing music, and who does not agree with Rachin’s draconian policies. Hearing the boys singing one day, he is inspired to form a choir and discovers that one of the boys has the voice of an angel. Mathieu is, however, in a constant struggle with Rachin to maintain the choir and some form of compassion and justice at the school.

Presenter/discussion leader: Dr. Alan Singerman, Richardson Professor Emeritus of French, Davidson College; President, Davidson Film Club



Directed by Fatih Akin (Germany, in German w/English subtitles), 2009, 1h39.

Celebrated Turkish/German filmmaker Fatih Akin offers us here a prize-winning zany comedy. Soul Kitchen centers on a likable but hopelessly disorganized Greek/German restauranteur, Zinos, whose restaurant in Hamburg serves poor-man’s fare and is second home to a motley crew of lovable eccentrics. He hurts his back and can’t cook, so he hires a temperamental chef who calls his diners “culinary racists” and drives them away. When his girlfriend Nadine up and moves to Shanghai, a love-sick Zinos decides to fly after her, leaving his restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias. Both decisions turn out to be disastrous. . . If the brothers can stop arguing and get it together, the Soul Kitchen might still have one last chance at staying in business. The mayhem generated in this film makes for a hilariously entertaining story set to an irresistibly soulful soundtrack.