Lifestories: The Lost Boys of Sudan
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Lifestories: The Lost Boys of Sudan is a short documentary that explores the lives of eight Sudanese refugees. Displaced from their homes in the late 1980s due to a brutal civil war, the youngest boys were forced to flee alone. Pitted against an Arab Militia, wild animals, starvation, and thirst the boys survived a trek of 1,000 miles and twelve years in refugee camps before coming to the United States. Enduring such unimaginable hardships left them with many stories to tell. It is an under-reported and forgotten tale of survival and brotherhood. Directed by Jared D. Martin at the age of 14.
The film was created to aid the Lost Boys of Sudan in telling their story to the masses. The boys arrived in the United States eager to assimilate into society, but soon found out that the task would not be entirely possible until people understood their heroic story. The film follows several Lost Boys as they recount their incredible journeys across the Sahara Desert and subsequent arrival at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The film is aimed at bringing forth a complete comprehension and appreciation of the lives of the Lost Boys and helping attract an audience to a story that many know little about.
While other documentaries about the Lost Boys of Sudan exist, Lifestories: The Lost Boys of Sudan is the only one to focus solely on the lives of the boys as they walked. It seeks to travel along with the boys as they walk, setting aside the lives of the Lost Boys once they reached the United States.
A total of 11 hours of footage was shot for the documentary in 2004. The 11 hours was edited down to 42 minutes of "usable" footage in 2006. That 42 minutes was then edited down to the final length of 13 minutes in 2008.
Due to loud background noise caused by an air conditioner, several interviews were rendered useless and beyond repair in post-production. To combat the situation, a small Canon handheld camcorder was used to record audio only. Over eighty percent of the interviews were saved thanks to this technique.
The film screened at ten film festivals beginning with the West Hollywood International Film Festival on July 31, 2008, and including the Wine Country Film Festival, Santa Cruz Film Festival, Sacramento Film and Music Festival, National Film Festival for Talented Youth and Big Bear Lake International Film Festival. In addition to screening only at festivals, the film has been and is still being shown thanks in part to Father Jerry Drino, executive director of Hope With Sudan. The film has also screened at several Northern California colleges including UC Davis and American River College. As of April 2011, the film is working towards distribution and is still being shown to peace and anti-genocide groups across California.
The film won four awards in all including:
- Columbine Award at the Moondance International Film Festival for short documentary (2008). This award is given to works which reflect non-violent conflict resolution, alternatives to violence, or show why violent resolution to conflict is counter-productive.
- Audience Favorite Award at the Moondance International Film Festival for short documentary (2008). This award is based on audience votes.
- Student Documentary Audience Award at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival (2008). This award is based on audience votes.
- Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival (2008). Awarded to films and filmmakers of a young age who make films that an average person of their demographic would not normally attempt. An award created in response to Lifestories: The Lost Boys of Sudan, co-director of the Sacramento Film and Music Festival Tony Sheppard is quoted as saying: "So good and so promising, we created a new award category: Emerging Filmmaker!" The Emerging Filmmaker Award has been added to the lineup of honors presented at the Sacramento Film and Music Festival each year.