Sunday Worship on Zoom

Faith Issues in Film Group

Our group meets at 7pm, on the 3rd Tuesday, eight months a year. We watch the chosen film on our own, and then gather over Zoom to discuss it; we’re very much like a book club in those aspects. Our meetings often include an introductory worship portion and a time for sharing and prayers. We are always open to new members. For more information, please contact Ellen Forbes, Jeff Grinnell, or Shirley Eglington. The church office can provide you with their contact information.

Here is a schedule of the films we will discuss in 2020-21, followed by descriptions of the upcoming films:

Oct 20 The Windermere Children
Nov 17 The Farewell
Jan 19 Trumbo
Feb 16 The Rider
Mar 16 American Factory
Apr 20 Like Father Like Son
May 18 BlacKKKlansman

NOTE: You can read our complete statement here, but in short, out of an abundance of caution and care for our congregation and the surrounding Palo Alto community, First Presbyterian Church will not be gathering in person until 2021 and all in-person church meetings and gatherings will be held online.

The Windermere Children
BBC production directed by Simon Bloch and Michael Samuels – 2020

This documentary is set in postwar England at Lake Windermere, part of the Lake District near the border between England and Scotland.  It is a poignant survivor story about 350 orphaned children (of which 40 are girls) liberated in 1945 from the Nazi concentration camps and brought to participate in a special program designed to help them reassemble their lives. Here we become witnesses to the impact of their concentration experience upon them and their individual and collective struggles to emerge from the darkness of that hell. The uniqueness of this survivor story is that all survivors are children.  The only adult refugee in the documentary is the director of the program, Oscar Friedmann, who fled Germany in 1939. Friedmann was a pioneer in the field of child psychology.

The Farewell
Directed and written by Lulu Wang – 2019

According to, “The Farewell announces at the beginning that it’s ‘based on an actual lie,’ but the meaningful truths it reveals couldn’t be more poignant or powerful. And while writer/director Lulu Wang’s film is obviously personal and culturally specific, it achieves a universality and a resonance through its vivid depiction of a family in the midst of crisis.

That crisis was actually Wang’s crisis: Her beloved grandmother was dying in China, and the family decided not to tell their matriarch to protect her and prevent her from living in fear throughout her remaining days. Instead, they planned a lavish wedding as an excuse to bring everyone together one last time. Wang explores cultural differences between East and West and between generations without judgment or pronouncement as to whose approach is best. It’s as if she wants to see all sides of the delicate argument with a kind heart and an open mind.“ 

Stars Awkwafina, who won a Golden Globe for best actress, and Shuzhen Zhao as her “Nai Nai”.

Directed by Jay Roach – 2015

A story of Hollywood from the late 40’s to 1960 and beyond. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs. Trumbo recounts how Dalton used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice of the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger

Stars Helen Mirren and Bryan Cranston

The Rider
Directed by Chloe Zhao – 2017

This is a story of pain and poetry, of universal human struggles of finding meaning and purpose in life. How a cowboy from SD and a filmmaker from Beijing came together on this indie film is an amazing story itself. After a tragic riding accident, young cowboy Brady, once a rising star of the rodeo circuit, is warned that his competition days are over. Back home, Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for a new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. This film won the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing and the Cannes Film Festival Art Cinema Award in May of 2017

Stars a cast of non-actors from the Pine Ridge Oglala Lakota Indian Reservation, in the Badlands of South Dakota.

American Factory
Directed by Steven Bogner and Julia Reichert – 2019

This documentary is set in the outskirts of the directors’ home city of Dayton, Ohio and covers the process by which a Chinese company takes over a shuttered GM automobile plant and establishes a factory to manufacture windshields. They hire 1,000 local blue -collar workers to learn the new skills of making windshields and bring in 200 experienced Chinese employees to train and oversee them. The Chinese CEO provided extensive access to all aspects of the interactions between and among the Americans and Chinese, both in Ohio and also in China. The result is a provocative and disturbing insight into cultural differences and attitudes toward work. It is a challenging, strange, eye-opening film that draws attention to the harsh economic realities of 21 Century global capitalism. The first film produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions. It won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる, Soshite Chichi ni Naru) 
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda – 2013

This Japanese drama was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize and a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury.  Andrew Chan of the Film Critics Circle of Australia writes, “Essentially, Like Father, Like Son is one of those rare films that keep the audience totally engaged, thoroughly profound, fully emoted and ultimately refreshing. In the scale of perfect cinema, this stands quite close.” 

Directed by Spike Lee – 2018

Set in the 1970s in Colorado Springs, the plot follows the first African-American detective in the city’s police department as he sets out to infiltrate and expose the local Ku Klux Klan chapter

Stars stars John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier and Topher Grace.