God Grew Tired of Us

Poignant if not exactly profound documentary follows three of the former "Lost Boys of Sudan" - those thousands of young refugees who fled their war-torn country in the '80s only to wind up in a Kenyan camp, waiting for some kind of future. The subjects of the film - now grown men with the exotic names of John Bul Dau, Daniel Pach, and Panther Bior - were among the hundreds allowed to enter the United States legally as political refugees. Daniel and Panther wind up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the gigantic John Bul Dau is sent to Syracuse, New York.

We see these intelligent, hard-working, and highly introspective men adjust to the shock of living in their new country as they reflect on their lives and try to better themselves and their fellow refugees back "home", with John Bul in particular trying to raise awareness of the plight of the Sudanese. This film, in fact, primarily exists to raise this awareness, and much like last year's Born Into Brothels, it feels more like a Public Service Announcement than it does a feature film. Documentary filmmaking always walks a fine line between telling a story and providing a social service. The best ones feel like dramas. God Grew Tired of Us, in contrast, never transcends its National Geographic-like trappings (and indeed, it's a National Geographic production). It is unusual that this film should receive a theatrical release instead of merely being broadcast on PBS. My guess is that its being a double winner at Sundance 2006 helped. It's still a thoughtful, enjoyable movie, with three engaging subjects, and it's for a good cause.