Lost Boys of Sudan (Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk 2004)
This documentary makes us not only aware of Africa’s civil war, it takes us into the lives of the orphans from this war, refugee boys that have been living in Kenya with thousands of others like them. These individuals have suffered a fate none of us will ever or could ever understand. Their strong bond was born through an instinct to survive, creating a second family in the face of utter loss. The camp became their home, their community, and now they had to face a new world, one completely different from their own in the United States. It’s interesting to watch their journey, not only during their travels as the two boys featured, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor, try to figure out plane food (which most of us have to do most of the time, if we ever get something other than peanuts), and as they grow accustomed to the ways of different cities.
Watching them survey the map of Houston as they’re sprawled out on the floor of their new living room, asking if this was their new village, they appear to look much like an innocent child on Christmas day. Things we as Americans take for granted, like picking up groceries, staying Arrid Extra Dry, and being able to eat around the clock are only a few lessons.
The boys, now becoming men, observe our culture and compare it to theirs. Wide differences are expected, but as they delve in more, it’s depressing to realize how we are a people of one, most times having to survive with no back up or support system like that of their culture. They are surprised at how African Americans see them as odd because of their darker skin, how a friendly game of basketball can get physically aggressive, and how they cannot show the affection for each other as they did back home because they’d be thought of as gay. One boy was missing home, mainly because he realized that so much of us are too busy working to ever have personal time, time to make friends and be friends.
Like many who have migrated here over the years, Peter, Sanito, and the other 4,000 Lost Boys that have sought refuge and a new life in the U.S., they seem to have hope for a new future. The only other hope is that they will not be influenced by the negative aspects of this society, and continue to celebrate life and brother/sisterhood as they did during their reunion a year after their arrival. The song they sung during that reunion tells their story of today, and their plan to someday, as they continue to find a new life, they’ll also find a new name for themselves.
Meet more than 50 of Colorado’s Lost Boys (and Girls) at a special screening hosted by Colorado Friends of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Friday July 23, 7:00pm, Starz FilmCenter, at the Tivoli, 9th & Auraria, Denver, (303) 820-FILM.