Fictionalized story handles a serious topic well
I like this movie and my mature 12 year old was disappointed to stop watching it because it was bedtime. I was looking for something rare - a movie about a serious global issue that does justice to the issue while still being something teens might choose to watch. I love documentaries, but many teens don't, so I really wanted a fictionalized story to engage them. The first 30-45 minutes of this movie are set in Sudan and include many examples of war destroying the lives of the children and teens who star in the movie. These scenes are not graphic (no blood, no closeups of shooting) but they are frank. For instance, in the opening scene, you see soldiers arriving and hear shooting, then see all the parents and people in the village dead. Later, you see a large refugee group diverge at a river, possibly hear faint shooting off screen and soon see the bodies of the people who went one direction float down the river. The children form their own group, led by a young teen who demonstrates amazing leadership and sacrifice. It is hard (and humbling) to watch the children suffer loss, thirst, hunger, and a long uncertain walk to safety, but part of the movie's strength is its ability to get viewers to care about the characters in this situation. Also, these migration scenes are so emotional because the viewer also feels the strength, solidarity and responsibility shown by the children and teens. After about 45 minutes, the movie jumps ahead in time and focuses on the now-young adults winning a visa lottery and settling in America. I found the movie heartbreaking, uplifting, emotional, humbling, sometimes funny, and interesting. Just make sure your teens can handle scenes of wartime and death, and can take in the duality of a horrible situation that leads characters to demonstrate impressive leadership and selflessness.