God Grew Tired of Us: Christopher Quinn’s Timely Docu

God Grew Tired of Us is a documentary about the journey of three young Sudanese men.

As boys, their villages were ravaged and many family members were killed during bloody civil war between the ruling Arabic Muslim majority in the north and the Christian and animist rebels in the south. Because the village boys traditionally tended cattle on the outskirts of the villages, they had avoided death. They soon found others like themselves; orphaned boys aged three to thirteen years, and banded together until they numbered nearly 25,000. They set out across Sudan on foot in search of safety.

The boys came to be known in Africa as the Lost Boys after Peter Pan’s posse of orphans, and they protected and provided for each other as they wandered the equatorial wilderness between Sudan and Ethiopia for the better part of five years. Many did not survive the horrific journey. Some died of thirst or starvation. Some drowned or died of exposure. Some were eaten by animals. Some were killed by soldiers or bandits. The older among them were forcibly recruited into the rebel army. But in 1992, the Lost Boys finally reached a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya.

For the next nine years, they struggled to survive the harsh conditions of the Kenyan refugee camp. Hopes soared in 1999 when the United States government agreed to relocate 3,600 Lost Boys to America. Having never turned a light switch or seen a television, three Lost Boys; Daniel, Panther, and John began their new lives in America in August of 2001.

Culture shock does not even begin to describe their initial experiences, but eventually they begin to lead normal American lives. Yet they remain deeply committed, both spiritually and monetarily, to those lost boys left behind in Kakuma and to their struggling homeland.

“God Grew Tired of Us” is a culmination of over four years of filming. Christopher Quinn and his crew started in Africa, on the border of Sudan and Kenya, at a UN refugee camp in Kakuma. There they met a group of orphaned young men known in the west as The Lost Boys of Sudan. The crew was amazed by how these boys held together, opting for civility during even the most horrific periods. An estimated 25,000 boys of various ages had trekked across the African desert battling not only famine and disease, but also ruthless attacks from soldiers or bandits. Others were eaten by wild animals. Yet somehow, they didn’t fall into William Goldings pessimistic view of the world, as illustrated in “Lord of the Flies.”

They didnt digress into barbaric savagery. Rather, they took care of each other. A ten-year old boy looked after a three and five-year old boy. They formed makeshift families in order to survive, and set a course through Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety. Quinn made this film to tell their stories so others can hear and learn. To stop the systematic eradication, the genocide, of these great people the people of Sudan.

Over the course of two weeks in 2001, the producers documented the harsh reality of camp life and gathered testimony of the boys past hardships. Of the many interviewed, some of these boys were selected to follow to America. The producers then accompanied the boys on the plane from Africa to their host cities, witnessed the boys first impressions of the new country, followed them to their new homes, and, for the next four years, documented these young men as they adapted to living “normal” American lives.

Early on, Quinn found it fascinating to see the Lost Boys make their way through our modern Western world. A flight attendants message over the loudspeaker heading out of Nairobi alarmed one of the guys so much, that he asked What place is the man speaking from Even more odd, having to explain to them that yes, in America we have an entire supermarket aisle dedicated to food for dogs and that the freezer isnt necessarily the place to store oven mitts or towels.

Since the initial phase of shooting, the producers made week-long visits to the boys every other month, rotating their visits between Syracuse, New York and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the three subjects have been settled.

The Lost Boys that Quinn followed from Kenya have become young Americans, with transformed faces, vibrant and full from years living in the land of plenty. They are busy working jobs and going to school. Quinn witnessed how they gained and how they lost here in America. Its lonely, we miss our culture. Now we say this is mine, this is yours. But they are also safe here, and look expectantly to their future and to help those left behind in Africa. Quinn was overwhelmed by how much he learned from these young men, especially the importance of being truly civil. Also, that there is a line that should never be crossed a dark place where you can honestly say, life is useless.

Christopher Quinn, Producer/ Director

Born in Washington, D.C. Quinn began his career in broadcast news for CBS. He attended the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe for documentary and ethnographic filmmaking. He has directed several original documentaries and fictional works including The Life and Art of Howard Finster, and the fictional film entitled Hands of Fate starring Dermot Mulroney (About Schmidt, Living in Oblivion).

Quinn has signed on to direct Michael Apteds 21 Up in America this summer (2005). Other current projects include directing National Geographic’s Worlds Apart and developing MTVs top rated show Room Raiders. Quinn recently formed a creative alliance with Eric Gilliland (Rosanne, Wonder Years, That 70s Show) to produced original content for the motion picture and television industries. Networks and companies Quinn has worked with include A&E, BBC, ABC, National Geographic Channel, RDF, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Granada, London Weekend Television, and the New York Times. Quinn lives in New York City.

Tommy Walker, Co-director/Producer

Walker has worked in film and television for twenty years. He began his career in 1985 working in postproduction for National Geographic’s Explorer series. In 1991, Walker was the production manager for the PBS documentary Mandela in America, which followed Mandela on his first visit to the United States. Walker has produced and directed big-budge films for Toyota, Mercedes, Daimler Chrysler and Hewlett Packard. In 2004, Walker produced the acclaimed, primetime Emmy-nominated, feature-length documentary film With All Deliberate Speed for Discovery Communications Doc Series.

Also in 2004, Walker produced the critically acclaimed A Southern Town that has been a mainstay of programming on Discovery Times Network. Walker is currently developing the feature film Fellowship. Jeffrey Wright has recently signed to play the lead.

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