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Davidson Film Club Presents “The Man Without a Past”

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Arts & Entertainment, Davidson Film Club

The Davidson Film Club is pleased to present the Oscar-nominated Best Foreign Language Film from Finland, “The Man Without a Past,” winner of four prizes at Cannes and a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer (critical opinion).

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki
Finland (2002, 1h37)
In Finnish w/English subtitles

This is the fifth film in our Virtual Cinema series of Extraordinary Figures Struggling to Survive.

*Trigger warning: this film contains one scene of physical violence (necessary because it sets up the whole rest of the film).

We will discuss this film on Zoom on Saturday, October 24, at 7:00 p.m.
To Join the Zoom Meeting, click on the link below:

Discussion will be led by Barbara Randolph, a prominent community activist committed to advocacy for immigrants.

There is no membership fee for this program, only the modest cost of the on-line film rental (see below) that yields no revenue to the Davidson Film Club.

Film Summary:

“The Man Without a Past” opens with the title character being savagely beaten on a park bench just after his arrival in Helsinki. At the hospital he is declared dead, but he sits up and walks out on his own power. He is taken in by a family living in a shipping container and nursed back to health, but he cannot recollect a single detail about his life—total amnesia. He creates his own home out of another metal container, meets a woman at the Salvation Army where he gets meals, finds work, and tries to recreate a life.

In addition to its nomination for the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, “The Man Without a Past” was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, the most important prize after the Palme D’Or, and three other prizes among 21 wins and 25 nominations, including multiple Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress prizes.

“The Man Without a Past” may be rented on either Vudu or Amazon Prime for $2.99 at:


A trailer is available on both of the above websites if you would like to take a quick peak.

This film is also available by mail from Netflix if you are a subscriber.

Film Critics Say:

“A powerful film made with minimal means, it’s a story of poor people on the fringes of society, done without sentimentality or condescension but with wicked humor.” Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

“Wry, whimsical and sure of tone, dry in all of the right ways and without an ounce of condescension.” Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News]

“Full of deadpan humor.” Eric Harrison, Houston Chornicle

“Kaurismaki’s affection for and faith in people shines through even in the darkest moments.” Dan Jardine, Cinemania

“With its rusty railroads and dingy metal containers where the downtrodden dwell, [this film] finds color, surprise, and joy in the simplicity of struggling Helsinki outcasts.” Jeffrey Overstreet, Christianity Today

Audience Reviews:

“Vivid, subtle characters blessed with sincere humanity and profound personalities. Hilarious. Brilliant. Compelling.”

“Jim Jarmusch aptly summarized this film: “It’s sad enough to make you laugh, and funny enough to make you cry.”

The Davidson Film Club is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization run by volunteers that only exists to bring you fine international fiction films and engage in stimulating discussion about them.

Hope to see many of you on Zoom on Saturday, October 24, for the discussion of this extremely touching and dryly humorous tragicomedy. Share the link with your friends! There is no charge by the Film Club, and there is room for everyone!

If you are on Facebook, please take a moment to “Like” and “Share” with your friends our announcement of this film on the Davidson Film Club page. And thanks for spreading the good word!

Facebook link:

For more information please contact Alan Singerman, President, Davidson Film Club by phone

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