News

The Heartbreak, Bravery and Determination of the Lost Boys of Sudan

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
3 Jun 2015

The Good Lie tells the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan and the challenges they face as refugees in Kansas, Misssouri

Academy award winner, Reese Witherspoon and leading Hollywood award winning director, Ron Howard have brought the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan to the big screen in one of the most acclaimed movies of the year, "The Good Lie".

The Lost Boys of Sudan is the name given to the groups of over 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War between 1983 to 2005. Around 2.5 million were killed during this long, brutal and bloody war. Many travelled by foot across thousands of kilometres of dangerous country, avoiding wild animals and soldiers, into Ethiopia, a nation also wracked by civil war and offering little safety in the overcrowded refugee camps set up on its border.

Eventually after many years of a hand to mouth existence in refugee camps, some of 20,000 Lost Boys of Sudan were resettled in Western countries such as here in Australia or in the US.

Jonathan Ngor was one of the 20,000 Lost Boys of Sudan and is now a leader and active member of Sydney's Catholic Sudanese community

The film, which has received rave reviews, pays tribute to the courage, bravery, resilience and humour of the Lost Boys as the story of "The Good Lie" follows a tattered group of fleeing children through to their resettlement as young adults in Kansas City, Missouri where they need urgent help to navigate the 20th century while rebuilding their shattered lives.

The help for the newly-arrived Sudanese comes from Carrie, an employment counsellor played by Reese Witherspoon, who is rough around the edges and who has always managed to keep herself from any emotional entanglements and the pain they can bring.

Against a backdrop of violence, shared losses and personal courage, the Lost Boys struggle to meet the challenges of life in America. Against her will, Carrie as well as her boss, Jack (played by Corey Stoll) discover they have more in common with the Lost Boys than they imagined as they laugh together at the clash of cultures and form the strong bonds of friendship that will last forever.

An advance screening of this powerful film will be held this Thursday, 4 June at 7.30 pm at the Mustard Seed Bookshop at Lidcombe.

"This special screening of "The Good Lie" was chosen because it is a story about having faith in God and persistence no matter what the trials or the adversity faced. And above all this is a film of hope and the resilience of the human spirit," says Jessie Mansour, Manager of the Mustard Seed Bookshop.

At just $5 a ticket the Mustard Seed Bookshop's advance screening series have proved enormously popular with the 100-seat theatre where the movies are shown always complete sell-outs.

Reese Witherspoon with Sudanese refugees who play key roles in The Good Lie

Established three years ago, the films that have been shown at the Mustard Seed Bookshop as part of the Advance Screening Series have included "The Way" with Martin Sheen, "For Greater Glory" with Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria and legendary British actor Peter O'Toole, as well "Christmas Candle" featuring soprano Susan Boyle which was shown last Christmas.

"The Way" was written and produced by Martin Sheen's actor son, Emilio Estevez and recounts the story of a father's grief after his son dies in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago ancient spiritual trail. Taking his son's ashes with him, the father assuages his grief by walking the Camino de Santiago trail where he meets many other pilgrims as well as non pilgrims and finds comfort and hope.

"For Greater Glory" relates the story of Mexico's Cristero War when a rag tag bunch of Mexican Catholics led an uprising in the 1920s when the country's hardline newly elected President used force in an attempt to reduce the power of the Catholic Church.

But it is tomorrow night's film that will resonate with many, particularly members of Sydney's vibrant Sudanese Catholic community.

Jonathan Ngor, who is one of the leaders of Sydney's Sudanese Catholic Community was one of the 20,000 Lost Boys of Sudan with a story that is as poignant, heartbreaking as those of the youngsters shown making the trek to Ethiopia in the film.

Forced to flee his village during Sudan's the civil war, Jonathan Ngor was just seven years old when he made the perilous journey on foot across thousands of kilometres of desert with his mother, only to only to watch in horror as she was swept to her death as they attempted to cross the Nile.

Reese Witherspoon with one of the actors in the movie, The Good Lie

It took three months for the seven-year-old to eventually reach a refugee camp in Ethiopia where he discovered his father had been killed by Sudanese soldiers. There was little safety for Jonathan in Ethiopia which like neighbouring Sudan was wracked by civil war and unrest.

But like the Lost Boys of Sudan in "The Good Lie" at age 20, after a life of tragedy, loss and the hard scrabble life in an overcrowded refugee camp, Jonathan's determination and patience paid off. In 2000 he was given a visa and resettled in Australia as part of the then Howard Government's refugee program.

The screening of "The Good Lie" along with free popcorn will be held at 7.30 pm at the Mustard Seed Bookshop, 3 Keating Street, Lidcombe on Thursday 4 June. For more information see http://mustardseedbookshop.tumblr.com/post/118756325197