The Philosopher Kings (2009)

where to watch

The visuals are crisp, and Shen’s seamless editing creates conversation between his various subjects, as the spoken musing of one plays over the images of another. Kings arcs hard toward its uplifting ending, but it also completely earns it.
–Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly

–Sheri Linden, LA Times

TERRIFIC documentary about janitors – yes janitors.
–G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

A supremely designed, fluent and delicately shot film, The Philosopher Kings is everything that you don’t expect, and nothing that you do.
–David Day, The Weekly Dig

about the film

In search of wisdom found in unlikely places, The Philosopher Kings takes us on a journey through the halls of the most prestigious colleges and universities in America to learn from the staff members who see it all and have been through it all: the custodians. This thought-provoking, feature-length documentary interweaves the untold stories of triumph and tragedy from the members of society who are often disregarded and ignored, and seeks out the kind of wisdom that gets you through the day and the lessons one learns from surviving hard times, lost loves, and shattered dreams.

From the producers of the multiple-award winning Flight from Death, The Philosopher Kings gives us the opportunity to learn from eight incredible individuals whom we would never have otherwise taken a moment out of our day to acknowledge.

“A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.” ~ Chinese Proverb

the team

Directed & Edited by Patrick Shen
Produced by Patrick Shen, Greg Bennick
Written by Patrick Shen, Greg Bennick


• Premiered theatrically in Los Angeles & New York City May 2010
• Broadcast on Documentary Channel (US), Al Hurra TV (Middle East & North Africa – 22 countries), Yes (Israel), United Airlines, Al Jazeera (Turkey), EBS (South Korea), Religia TV (Poland), Swedish Educational (Sweden), ERR (Estonia), and Sky (New Zealand)
• Streamed on Netflix 2010-2012
• Now available on iTunes, Vimeo on Demand, and DVD


WINNER: Emerging Cinematic Vision Award
Camden International Film Festival

WINNER: Best Documentary
Lighthouse International Film Festival

WINNER: Special Judges’ Mention
Newburyport Film Festival

NOMINATED: Best Documentary
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Film Festival

NOMINATED: Best Documentary
Raindance Film Festival

NOMINATED: Best Documentary
Calgary International Film Festival