The Philosopher Kings
Filmmaker Patrick Shen profiles a handful of intelligent, thoughtful people who work at noted institutions of learning but are never asked to stand behind a lectern in this documentary. In an effort to demonstrate that remarkable minds can be found in all walks of life, Shen traveled to several major universities and spent some time with the custodial staff, and in The Philosopher Kings he introduces viewers to eight people who have as many intelligent, insightful things to say as anyone on the faculty, but are often ignored by the students and visitors. Corby Baker works at the Cornish College of the Arts and is an artist himself, drawing inspiration from the creative atmosphere of the school. Oscar Dantzler sweeps up at Duke University's campus chapel, and draws a deep spiritual satisfaction from spending his days in a house of the Lord. Luis Cardenas was on the cleaning crew at the California Institute of Technology when he was in an auto accident that cost him his right arm and left him with brain damage, though less than a year later he was back on the job, learning his tasks over again and discovering what life can really mean. Josue Lajeunesse cleans up at Princeton University in the morning and drives a cab in the evening; the Haitian expatriate uses the money to support 15 family members living in poverty and help pay for water treatment facilities in his home village. Melinda Augustus of the University of Florida tells the story of her mother, who fell into a coma while giving birth to her 15th child; Melinda was only nine at the time, and spent the next 11 years helping to care for a parent who could not leave her bed. Cornell University's Gary Napieracz and Jim Evener are both Vietnam veterans whose days on the field of battle taught them some important lessons about survival and working with others. And Michael Seals, a custodian at the University of California at Berkeley, speaks frankly about the many wrong turns he took as a husband and father before he took stock of himself and regained the trust of those closest to him. The Philosopher Kings was an official selection at the 2009 Silverdocs Film Festival.