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STUDIO: Sony Pictures
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
• Commentary with the director and the Lost Boys
• Finding the Lost Boys featurette
People were and are dying in Sudan, in case anybody gives a shit.
Lost Boys of Sudan, narration by Nicole Kidman.
Sudan’s bullshit, murderous government.
With the outbreak of civil war in the East African country of Sudan, thousands of refugees were forced to flee or risk extermination. Given the euphemistic collective title of the “Lost Boys”, there’s nothing euphemistic about the hardships these people, most of them boys and young men, had to endure just to survive. Many of them emigrated to neighboring countries, including Ethiopia and Kenya, with many of those ultimately settling here in America. These are their stories.
Few things in this misbegotten world piss me off more than the state-sponsored, wholesale slaughter by a country of its own people. Unfortunately, this seems to happen more in Africa than anywhere else. Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan: it’s a constant fight for survival for many people on the Dark Continent. Considering that our country’s government has pretty much given the middle finger to this situation for the last decade, while we pursue phantom weapons of mass destruction, verifiable mass destruction is taking place on a daily basis. Although I don’t claim to be any shining example of aid to the situation going on in Sudan, this conflict hits a little closer to home for me because I’ve been to East Africa, and I’ve seen that people from that part of the world, in my case Kenya, are very nice and are the same as us in many ways yet very different in many more. So to see them massacred by the thousands doesn’t exactly sit well with me as you could imagine. In fact, so close am I to East Africa, that I married someone from that part of the world.
God Grew Tired of Us tells the tale of the Sudanese genocide from the perspective of the roughly 85,000 refugees dubbed "The Lost Boys": young men and thousands of children who saw their families slaughtered before their eyes and who trekked over a thousand miles through sub-Saharan Africa for five years. Tens of thousands of them eventually settled a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, there to remain for nearly a decade in hellish limbo until countries such as the U.S. stepped in to repatriate many of them. We see the tale unfold primarily from the three Lost Boys the film focuses on: John Bul Dau, Panther Bior and Daniel Abul Pach. John strongly resembles the older brother of the African basketball prodigy that Kevin Bacon seeks out in The Air Up There: tall, strong, and having seen much more then any three humans twice his age have collectively seen. Panther and Daniel have likewise seen much more than their years and their stories grab hold of your balls and squeeze until the end credits roll.
The story follows them from the Kakuma camp to their journey to America, where they settle in either Pittsburgh or Syracuse. It’s truly shocking to see that they’re not familiar with nearly any modern convenience: whether it be running water, a refrigerator, shaving cream, or eating a pat of airline butter like it’s a snack food. God traces their journey for a period of several years, as they struggle to adapt to American culture, while trying to reconcile their pasts, not losing their culture, and helping their brethren who are still back in Africa. John’s story is possibly the most affecting, as he discovers that his family, whom he thought were all killed, are alive – if not well – in other African refugee camps. If you don’t lose it when he’s reunited with his mother after 17 years in an American airport, you’re a cold-hearted sumbitch to be sure. John also goes on to help unite the Lost Boys here in America via conferences and gatherings and has set up a nonprofit organization to help Sudanese all over the world. Panther travels back to the refugee camp to marry his girlfriend – then has to leave her there to return here until he can secure her passage here as well. All around, these are inspiring stories of perseverance and determination to survive.
Director Christopher Quinn does a solid job of letting the Lost Boys tell their own stories, and Nicole Kidman provides an unobtrusive, but sobering narration to tie together the loose threads of the stories and provide some background. But the real story is John, Panther and Daniel and how they bring you into their lives.
There’s a commentary by director Quinn and the three Lost Boys, as well as a 15-minute featurette, Finding The Lost Boys, which allows us to catch up to John, Daniel and Panther since the filming wrapped. This disc isn’t light fare by any stretch, but it is most definitely worth watching.