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Down in Number 5

18 min / narrative / 2009 / USA

filmmaker: Kim Spurlock



Retired coal miner Carl Short, 65, lives with his 40-year old, son Sammy, who has Down syndrome. Carl suffers from black lung. When money from a class action lawsuit fails to materialize, Carl realizes his options are running out.

Who will take care of Sammy when he is gone? He turns to Raymond Atkins, Sammy’s childhood friend and protector. But Raymond is now a middle-aged, single father overwhelmed by his own problems. Rooted in the Southern Gothic storytelling tradition, “Down in Number 5” is a tender portrait of a man pushed to his limits for the love of his son and a haunting rumination on family and community in Appalachia. Based on a true story.

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