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February 2004

By Wilson Morales
Lost Boys of Sudan

Directed by: Megan Mylan & Jon Shenk
Executive Producer: Francis Reid
Editors: Kim Roberts & Mark Becker
Cinematography: Jon Shenk

Everyone thinks that America is the place to be. We have freedom, food, money, and plenty of resources to make one happy in life. With all this comes work, hard work for some. No one is equal. Some folks live rich, without worrying about freedom and food, while others work very hard just to get by the day. When people come to the United States from another country, some of them think that they are coming to paradise compared to where they came from. Lost Boys of Sudan is a documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees, Peter Dut and Santino Chuor, on an extraordinary journey from Africa to America. What they think is going to be Heaven turns out to be the opposite. It's a powerful, moving film filled with compassion and hope.

Sudan is a country where civil war is the norm. The goal for the day is to survival, if not from your people then from the animals. About 2 million people have died within the 20 years, and many more displaced. When villages from different tribes were being attacked, with the men killed and women taken into slavery, thousands of boys wandered through the desert seeking safety. Some of them died, and some made it to the UN refugee camps. In 2001, some of these boys were brought over to America and placed around different states ranging from Houston to Kansas City to Little Rock. The film focuses on Peter Dut and Santino Chuor as we watch them with their friends before the long commute to the States. The boys are reminded by friends not to forget where they came from and provide what they can once they are settled. For Santino, life will be new and he feels weak with his friends not there to make him strong enough for the adjustment. Once they land in Houston, Texas and then Kansas, they realize that time will stop their insecurities.

There's so much that develops within this documentary that further plot point need not be discussed. What's fascinating about this is the filmmakers were able to capture the hostility the boys faced separately whether it came from other blacks or the law or even family members. It's emotional to see these guys struggle to find a place in life, but that what happens in reality. For Peter and Santino, freedom for them is living, but at the same time, they have a new task, and that is adjusting to a new life, and paving a way for others, to experience new opportunities. Lost Boys of Sudan is a vivid account of how living a new life comes with adjustment and hard work.

LOST BOYS OF SUDAN will have a two-week engagement, Feb.18-March 2, at Film Forum, West Houston St., New York