On October 3, Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon will be starring in a role that brings to light immigration issues you might not have heard about in the news.

They were known simply as “The Lost Boys.”

Orphaned by the brutal civil war in Sudan, which began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety.  Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys, as well as girls, to America.

In “The Good Lie,” Philippe Falardeau, (writer and director of the Oscar-nominated Foreign Language film “Monsieur Lazhar”) brings the story of their survival and triumph to life.  Witherspoon will star alongside Sudanese actors Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, and newcomer Kuoth Wiel, some of whom were also children of war and lived through traumatic events not unlike those depicted in the film.

The Story

Mamere and Theo are sons of the Chief in their village in southern Sudan.  When an attack by the northern militia destroys their home and kills their parents, eldest son Theo is forced to assume the role of Chief and lead a group of young survivors, including his sister Abital, away from harm.  But the hostile, treacherous terrain has other dangers in store for them.  As the tattered group makes the difficult trek to Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, they meet other fleeing children, forging a bond with Jeremiah, who, at 13, is already a man of faith, and Paul, whose skills become essential to their survival. 

Thirteen years later, the now young adults are given the opportunity to leave the camp and resettle in America.  Upon arriving in Kansas City, Missouri, they are met by Carrie Davis (Witherspoon), an employment agency counselor who has been enlisted to help find them jobs—no easy task, when things like light switches and telephones are brand new to them. 

Although Carrie has successfully kept herself from any emotional entanglements, these refugees, who desperately require help navigating the 21st century and rebuilding their shattered lives, need just that.   So Carrie embarks on her own unchartered territory, enlisting the help of her boss, Jack (Corey Stoll).

Together, against the backdrop of their shared losses, the Lost Boys and these unlikely strangers find humor in the clash of cultures, and heartbreak as well as hope in the challenges of life in America. 

A Few Words from Molly Smith, Producer

Known mostly for her work on “The Blind Side” (Sandra Bullock), Smith was gracious enough to answer a few questions last week about the movie which is already getting rave reviews.

How did you get involved in this project?

“The script came to me about 2.5 years ago,” Smith says, noting that the timing was perfect. She and her her partners were looking for a project of this magnitude. They were thrilled to take the script (which had been around for almost a decade) and bring it to life. What interested her most was not just the story from a poltical angle, but from a relationship one. It showed how someone can be very skeptic (Witerspoon’s character) and have a total change of heart that can only come from love and a softened heart, made possible by warm human relationship.

Why was it important for you to make this film?

Smith says that in 2001 she met a few of the Lost Boys through a personal connetion. They had such a compelling story about survival, faith and ultimate triumph, she knew she had to let other people know about it. “It’s a story so many people never heard,” she said. “I knew it had to be told.”

Is this a movie just for Christians?

No. It has many faith elements, but ultimately it’s not a faith film. “It is all about the value of the human spirit with family at it’s core. Faith… hope… love… this is what makes this story so special.” 

Was there any part of the filming that really stood out to you?

Smith recalls filming a scene at the very river that the refugees crossed. “One of the women standing by said, ‘I did that with a baby on my back.’ ” It hit home to Smith that while many people lost their lives, some did not. They lived to tell about it. 

“The Good Lie” is sure to tell others about it also. Smith, gracious and eloquent, ended the interview by urging people to consider seeing this film. While tragic at parts, it shows the transformation of the human spirit… how people really can make a difference in the lives of others. What can be better than that?

Rated PG 13 for drug use, langugage and some violence.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *