About a minute and 20 seconds into the trailer, a text lay-over tells us that the project comes from “The Executive Producer of ‘The Blind Side.'”
“Of course, it is,” was my immediate reaction as I grumbled in solo protest at what was in front of me.
Quite frankly, while I’m certainly pleased that these 3 young men will get to star in what appears to be a rather high profile Hollywood project, and that the 3 real-life young men whose story inspired the film, will get to see their lives reinterpreted on the big screen, I’m just no longer interested in this particular kind of story, which we’ve seen in a variety of movie incarnations over the years. And in Hollywood’s hands, who knows how they’ll play it. Whose story will be central to the narrative? Through whose eyes will the story unfold? The character played by Reese Witherspoon, or the 3 young South Sudanese men? Existing marketing materials suggest the former. Will it be loaded with the usual stereotypes? Will the South Sudanese characters be 3 dimensional? Will they have control over their own lives?
Hollywood seems to revel in stories like this that present limited and overwrought depictions of Africans, especially when there’s an opportunity to insert a white protagonist, if there isn’t already one in the original “based on” narrative. If Reese Witherspoon’s character was a black American woman, would “The Executive Producer of ‘The Blind Side'” be interested in seeing it adapted for the screen?
When will that story be made into a film by Hollywood producers?
The so-called “lost boys of Sudan” have been the subject of a handful of documentaries over the last decade, since the signing of a peace treaty that was to end what was the 2nd Sudanese civil war, in 2005. I’d suggest you take a look at those films first, before watching this one – that is, if you plan to. “Lost Boys of Sudan,” and “God Grew Tired of Us,” are two of the more popular titles.
I won’t be surprised if Witherspoon is nominated for (and even wins) an Academy Award for her performance in this film.
Refugees of the Second Sudanese Civil War will be front and center in this new feature film project that stars Witherspoon, which is inspired by true events, and is titled “The Good Lie.” Witherspoon plays a brash American woman assigned to help 3 young Sudanese men, who are struggling to adjust to new lives in the USA.
Playing the 3 refugees are Ugandan-born actor Arnold Oceng (“My Brother The Devil”), South Sudanese actor, model and social activist, Ger Duany (himself once a child soldier), and Emmanuel Jal, a South Sudanese musician and former child soldier as well.
Again, I can’t make an argument for why this film shouldn’t exist (and I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t) – after all, it’s based on real-life stories. But I can encourage Hollywood to embrace other stories about Africans (whether in Africa or in America – and there is an abundance of stories) beyond those tiny few extremes (war, poverty, famine, disease, corruption, or as simpletons) that sadly reflect views that are likely held by much of America.
Let’s recall author Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Ted Talk titled “The Danger of a Single Story,” which we’ve shared on this blog many times.
“The Good Lie” is directed by Philippe Falardeau (“Monsieur Lazhar”) from a script by Margaret Nagle, and will be produced by Black Label Media, along with Imagine’s Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Karen Kehela Sherwood.
Alcon Entertainment will release the film via Warner Bros.
The trailer for “The Good Lie” follows below (from “The Executive Producer of “The Blind Side”):