The Lost Boys of Sudan

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 3,600 lost boys, as well as girls, to the West. Their story has been told in a feature length film as well as documentaries.


The Good Lie is a film with Reese Witherspoon playing an employment agency counsellor who has been enlisted to help find the young Sudanese refugees find jobs.

  1. What was your immediate response to the film? Were there any scenes that you found particularly powerful and memorable, and why?
  2. How does Margaret Nagle’s script put the Sudanese characters at the centre of the story? What is the significance of Carrie’s role? What is the effect of having their different perspectives brought together in one story?
  3. What did you think of the performances of the four lead Sudanese actors – Ger Duany, Emmanuel Jal, Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel? What unique qualities and life experiences do they bring to their individual roles, and to the film as a whole? ‘This is my story being told here.’ – Actor Emmanuel Jal
  4. How did you feel during the early scenes in the film, when we see the children escaping violence and undertaking a tough journey? How do the group form the emotional bonds which will sustain them?
  5. How did you react to the character of Carrie, and what emotional journey does she go on over the course of the film? How is she changed by her relationship with the refugees? ‘Carrie’s experience of getting to know these three boys and their sister really opens her up in a way she hasn’t before.’ – Actress Reese Witherspoon
  6. How did you feel about the character of Mamere, and the emotional journey he goes on throughout the film? What are his priorities? How did you react to his decision to tell a ‘good lie’? ‘He has to be strong. He has to be the guy that takes the lead and looks after his family.’ – Actor Arnold Oceng
  7. How, and why, do Carrie and Jack (Corey Stoll) develop compassion and understanding for the refugees? How can we learn to listen to the stories of those who’ve lived very different lives from us? ‘What’s their story, anyway?’ – Jack
  8. What motivates Mamere to make his decision at the end of the story? Do you think he was right to tell his ‘good lie’, and why or why not? Under what circumstances, if any, might lying be justified?
  9. Does the film have anything to say about our responsibility for those who aren’t family, or who aren’t even known to us personally? In today’s connected world, how might our actions and attitudes affect people on the other side of the globe?
  10. What hopeful message does The Good Lie have for Sudan, and for people everywhere who have been affected by conflict? What messages might the story of Sudan’s Lost Boys have for those of us who haven’t experienced this kind of suffering first-hand? ‘The journey is not yet finished… because this is the story of the nation.’ – Actor Emmanuel Jal
  11. What does The Good Lie have to say about the power of sacrifice? Why do you think self-sacrifice is such an important theme in so many stories? Which examples of self-sacrifice have been particularly poignant to you?
  12. How do the film’s characters learn the importance of human connection? How might life be different if we all felt able to ‘lean on’ each other in this way? ‘We find out through the course of the story . . . the importance of human connection, and how much we need each other, to communicate, to lean on, to provide for each other.’ – Actress Reese Witherspoon

On YouTube you can watch a CBS documentary in 3 parts tell the story of the Lost Boys; a BBC documentary which provides a follow up story to their tale; a NY Times clip about a Lost Boy who joined the Police; and a documentary called Lost Boys of Sudan (2003) with a grainy trailer on YouTube; and the documentary which originally sparked my interest in this story which was narrated by Nicole Kidman called God Grew Tired of Us.


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