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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lost Boys of Sudan follows the true stories of two young men whose families were murdered or dispersed in Sudan's civil war. Issues such as racial prejudice and class privilege come up as the two try to adjust to new lives in the United States.
What's the story?
THE LOST BOYS OF SUDAN starts with wrenching narration about Sudan's civil war. So many boys have been orphaned by the violence that the group has acquired a name -- the Lost Boys. Two Lost Boys, Santino and Peter, travel to Texas as part of a resettlement program. Young men who have never seen an electric stove before must now struggle with the labyrinthine details of American life -- taking a driver's test, getting a receipt for the rent, asking a girl for her phone number. Santino gets a factory job. Peter moves to Kansas and attends high school. But even as they settle in, their sense of isolation is palpable. "This place there is no friend here," Santino says. Although most people are well-meaning, real connection is rare. The boys find themselves estranged from their own culture as well. The lure of comparative wealth is powerful, and they debate whether they should stay or return home to help their people.
Is it any good?
The immigrant experience is quintessentially American, and this sensitive, powerful documentary shows it in rare detail and with rare honesty. The directors' skill makes it feel as if the camera isn't there; we simply live Peter and Santino's lives with them. When a classmate interviews Peter for the school paper, the rift between her naive questions and the tragedy of his life is staggering. Finally he puts her off with a gentle comment that "explanation is difficult." By the end, many things about the boys' lives are still unsettled. But the film has done what the interview could not -- made explanation, and even understanding, possible. The Lost Boys of Sudan is a remarkable movie that should be on your must-see list.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about immigration. Did members of your own family come here from other countries, either recently or long ago? What was it like for them? Should immigrants try to assimilate into their new surroundings, or should they retain their own cultures? Are there downsides to the material wealth and comfort people come to the United States to find?
How do Peter and Santino handle the complicated nature of prejudice? Some of the Sudanese immigrants in the film express scorn and distrust toward native-born African-Americans. Why do they have these attitudes? Where did they learn them?
- In theaters: April 24, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 2004
- Cast: Peter Kon Dut, Santino Majok Chuor
- Director: Megan Mylan
- Studio: Actual Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Courage, Empathy, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
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