leave a comment --Ken Fox
With international attention finally focused on the worsening genocide in the Sudan, this documentary winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award, about the young survivors of this decimated country's bloody past, couldn't have come at a better time. Narrated by Nicole Kidman, the film focuses on the plight of the so-called "Lost Boys," the thousands of predominantly Christian Dinka boys aged 5 to 10 who somehow managed to survive both the murderous raids on their villages by government troops and the deadly, five-year trek back and forth across the sub-Saharan desert before finally landing in the relative safety of a U.N. refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. For many, however, the journey wasn't over. In 2001, nearly a decade after the Lost Boys' arrival in the camp, the International Rescue Committee selected nearly 4,000 of them for resettlement in the U.S. a golden opportunity that would also mean saying goodbye to their culture and whichever friends and family remained in the camps and in the Sudan. Filmmakers Christopher Quinn and Tommy Walker began filming a select group of Lost Boys in 2001, and undertook the project of following them to their new homes in cities as diverse as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Syracuse, New York, where the marvels of electricity, running water and potato chips are balanced by equally unfathomable laws and customs that prohibit the boys from tossing garbage out of windows or marrying more than one woman at a time. Theirs is a powerfully inspirational tale of survival told by men who were at one time convinced that God had simply grown tired of them and their families and had willed their destruction, but who have since found a new, wholly unexpected life on the other side of the world. It's also a story infused with a lingering sadness, however, as some of the boys, having quickly grown isolated and lonely in a country so unlike their homeland, experience deep-seated feelings of survivors' guilt. Their remarkable journey will be familiar to anyone who's seen Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk's superb 2003 film LOST BOYS OF SUDAN, which went quite a bit further in critiquing the kind of future America had to offer these young men and, in the final analysis, might be the more interesting film. Nevertheless, Quinn and Walker's documentary is certainly worthy of serious attention and filled with revealing moments, particularly the one in which recent arrival John Bul Dau experiences his first American Christmas and puzzles over what role Santa Claus could possibly play in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.