When The Good Lie comes to theaters on Friday, October 3rd, movie-goers will experience a moving story about family and sacrifice. Unlike most other Hollywood films, The Good Lie serves as a platform to advocate the story of the 20,000 children – mostly boys – who were displaced during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983-2005), a group commonly known as the Lost Boys of Sudan.
While starring Reese Witherspoon, the film is enhanced by the experiences of a well-chosen cast including Arnold Oceng, who fled the war zone at a young age and former Sudanese child soldiers Emmanuel Jal and Ger Duany – all who are actively supporting development and peace projects in their home country today.
These three actors portray some of the Lost Boys who came to America as refugees and the challenges faced. Their involvement in the movie, combined with the extensive research of screenwriter Margaret Nagle, resulted in a vivid portrayal of the effects of war, including the use of child soldiers and mass displacements, in Sudan.
But the feel-good ending for the three boys in The Good Lie is not typical of most of the Lost Boys. Only about 3,000 of the boys and girls were able to seek refuge in the United States, a small percentage of the millions of refugees created during the conflict.
There’s a moment in the movie where one of the boys returns over a decade later to the refugee camps he had stayed at before leaving for the United States. The fact that refugee camps are still there upon his return – and are still in place today – show the severity of the situation and a lack of attention by the global community to the plight of those living there.
Furthermore, atrocities and gross human rights violations are on the rise today in Sudan and South Sudan which gained independence from Sudan in 2011. In Sudan, there has still been no accountability for those who fomented genocide in Darfur. With a lack of continued attention from the international community, the violence continues and has spread to other parts of Sudan. In Darfur, nearly 500,000 people were displaced from their homes just this year.
In South Sudan, at least 10,000 civilians have been killed and 1.5 million people have fled their homes since fighting broke out in December 2013. Millions are facing severe food shortages, including almost 180,000 children between 6 months and 5 years old who are being treated for severe acute malnutrition.
There is a great risk of the world witnessing another generation of lost boys and girls. There is a dire need for multilateral action to be taken to bring security to the region that The Good Lie does not expose.
But despite these current day challenges to peace, The Good Lie shows how humanity at its best, can make a difference. The Good Lie is a story of benevolent sacrifice, exemplifying how there can be light in even the darkest moments of humanity. While the movie does a great job of raising awareness, it is our job now to build this momentum and create a stronger will for peace in the Sudans. It is imperative to make sacrifices of our own for the real stars of the movie, the people in Sudan and South Sudan who need the help of the international community to create peace.
How You Can Help
Take action and add your voice for peace in South Sudan:
Discussion guides and resources for The Good Lie
Host a screening of The Good Lie