Reese Witherspoon Couldn't Walk Away From this Film, Neither Will You
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- More than 20,000 children escaped Sudan's deadly second Civil War by walking thousands of miles to freedom.
At least 4,000 of those who have come to be known as the "Lost Boys of Sudan" made it to the United States. Ger Duany is one of them.
Duany recalled his childhood in a recent interview with CBN News.
"I am from the Republic of South Sudan in a state called Jungle in Akobo," Duany said. "That is where I was born and raised. When the civil war came, it found me there. We had to get to Ethiopia by foot. That is the place where my journey really began, in Ethiopia in 1987."
Before escaping to freedom, Duany was a child soldier and a refugee.
Freedom in America
The fashion model and actor gained asylum in America in 1994. He settled in Des Moines, Iowa, just in time to start high school. Standing 6 foot, 2 inches tall, the high school student played basketball and earned a college scholarship before being discovered to model and act.
In his latest role, Duany helps to tell a fictional account of "The Lost Boys" journey, adjustment to American life, and the unique bumps on the road. The film is called "The Good Lie."
"The story is very close to me," Duany said. "It came right from where I am from. And in the center of it, are our life experiences…the boys who really fled the country in 1987 by foot, all the way to Ethiopia, with little to no food."
"It was just a whole chaos that was going on in 1991, where sometimes I wonder if people were aware of what was going on in 1991 and here we are now making movies about 1991 and the same problem is still going on," he added.
More than 2 million have died in Sudan's civil war. It's a statistic and story that drew Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon to the project.
Witherspoon plays a counselor hired by a church organization to help three "Lost Boys" find jobs in Kansas City.
"The script was beautiful. It told the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan in a beautiful way, the story of these children traveling thousands of miles across the desert, just to find safety," Witherspoon told CBN News.
The film begins with a look at that harrowing escape. It recounts Sudanese children walking hundreds of miles, crossing bodies of water, and braving heat exposure. And boys were not the only ones to make the journey.
Kouth Wiel makes her acting debut in this film as the Lost Boys' sister, Abitel.
"For me, besides my own personally history, it brought closure for everyone who went through this and are still going through it today. And it was a journey to learn about myself," Wiel told CBN News.
"It is so inspiring to see these children going through this and to somehow come out laughing, in a sense," she said. "And I learned so much about my history that I didn't necessarily know because I immigrated to the U.S. as a child."
In the company of co-stars Arnold Oceng and Kuoth Wiel, Reese Witherspoon opens up about her role in “The Good Lie.” The academy award winning actress shares how motherhood and laughter prepared her for the film that took producers 11 years to complete.
Lost Girls of Sudan
Wiel is one of the rarely talked about Lost Girls of Sudan. She spent time in a refugee camp and lost her dad in the war in 1993, before fleeing to America with her mother.
"What I want people to know is that we have a commonality as humans to learn about each other and to know where we come from," Wiel told CBN News.
"But it is also important because Lost Girls are usually pushed under the bat. It's not just boys, it happens to girls, too. And it happened to a lot of people in the country who do not have a voice to tell their stories," she added. "I think it is going to be great that they know that people care. And they want to hear that women are validated."
With such close ties to Sudan, "The Good Lie's" cast hopes American audiences will learn from this story ripped from the emotional pages of real life.