If nothing else, watching "God Grew Tired of Us" will make Westerners realize just how much they take for granted in their daily lives. For this is a wonderful and deeply moving documentary about three young men from Africa and their first, awe-inspiring encounter with the modern world.
John, Daniel and Panther are refugees who fled Sudan when war and genocide ravaged that once-beautiful country in the 1980`s. They were part of a group of young boys who made an arduous and, for many, deadly trek from Southern Sudan to a refugee camp in Northern Kenya (those who survived the journey became known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan"). After living many years in substandard conditions at that site, 3,600 of the young men were given the opportunity to leave Kenya and start a new life in the United States. John, Daniel and Panther were three of those individuals.
As written and directed by Christopher Dillon Quinn (and narrated by Nicole Kidman), "God Grew Tired of Us" begins in despair, relating a heartbreaking tale of harrowing mass murder and deadly privation, and ends in hope, showing how one changed life can positively affect the lives of so many others the world over. For even though it vividly points out the bold line separating the haves from the have-nots in this world, the film also provides a great deal of optimism and humor, as the three young men explore the technological marvels of the strange new land in which they find themselves living: food that comes prepackaged from a freezer, staircases that move up and down seemingly of their own accord, hot and cold water that comes flowing out of a tap, light that appears at the command of a switch. One of the boys even admits to never having "seen" electricity before moving to America, and he worries over whether he will ever be able to master its use. But all is not roses and soft mattresses for the three men when they arrive in the U.S., for they must also work hard, establish themselves as members of their communities, and adjust to some of the "peculiarities" of American culture, such as a marked tendency towards suspicion and a lack of friendliness on the part of some of the people they meet. And, as with virtually all people who move to an alien yet economically advantaged society, they must cope not only with the loss of deeply-ingrained cultural traditions but a feeling of guilt for those they've left behind.
Yet, thanks to John, Daniel and Panther, "God Grew Tired of Us" becomes much more than a mere curiosity, a mere fish-out-of-water tale for the amusement of the Western elite. Through lengthy interviews, the three men provide a rich and thoughtful commentary on their lives, their experiences, their values, their goals and their aspirations. And though they struggle mightily with the psychic scars left by the traumas of their past, through their own inner strength and commitment - and never a hint of self-pity - they not only persevere to go on and make something of their own lives, but they are able to turn their personal tragedy into a force for Good, inspiring others in their neighborhoods to join them in raising America's consciousness about the atrocities still occurring in that corner of the globe. And when, after three years in America, two of them are already making plans to go back to their homeland in the hope of bringing positive change to the region, we come to understand just how powerful a force commitment and caring can be in this world.
After immersing yourself in "God Grew Tired of Us," you may never look at your own life - or the place you occupy in the world - in quite the same way again.
By all means, don't miss this one.