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A Great Wonder

More than 2 million Sudanese have died in the longest uninterrupted civil war in the world, now in its 20th year. Another 5 million civilians have fled their homes to escape the fighting.

A GREAT WONDER traces the extraordinary journey of three young Sudanese orphans, a fraction of the 17,000 so-called 'Lost Boys' of Sudan, who have spent the majority of their lives either in flight from war or in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya. Having navigated the hazards of warfare, disease and starvation, their arrival and resettlement in Seattle, WA, is not your average immigration story.

Over the course of 18 months, these youths have recorded their own experiences through their own eyes and in their own words using digital video cameras. The resulting 'diaries' serve as a personal thread throughout the film, incorporating first-hand accounts of their experiences in war with their radically different lives as immigrants in America.

A story of survival in its most elemental form, A GREAT WONDER explores the concepts of loss, faith, community and freedom as it bears witness to the spirit that drives these young people to rebuild their lives.

'A GREAT WONDER is one of the best films I have ever seen dealing with the new lives of refugees in the United States. It effectively and respectfully captures some astonishing encounters between a few Sudanese youth and their new Seattle community, presenting those encounters in all their pain, absurdity and grace. The youth and their American foster families are real people, with real strengths and faults - and they are the kind of extraordinary heroes living in lots of neighborhoods across this country. See the film; be inspired.' Anne P. Wilson, Executive Vice President for Planning and Programs, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service

'A testament to the strength of the human spirit as young men and women from war torn Sudan, facing the adversity of conflict unknown to most Americans, find new hope and opportunity in the Pacific Northwest...also a tribute to the humanitarian workers and families who opened their homes and hearts to these young displaced Sudanese.' John Hirsch, Former US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Senior Fellow at the International Peace Academy, New York

'The best film I've seen on The Lost Boys and Girls and on refugee resettlement for that matter...a touching tribute to the human spirit. The extraordinary sensitivity and resiliency of these young people comes through beautifully and powerfully. I laughed. I cried. I came away from the experience loving them. [A GREAT WONDER] should be mandatory viewing for every prospective foster parent and foster care agency that works with refugee children.' Susan Baukhages, Director for Communications, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Services

' A GREAT WONDER invites its audience to intimately witness the struggles and ultimate survival of the thousands of lost boys and girls of Sudan...a tremendous contribution and I hope that this film will give new hope to victims of war.' U.S. Representative Jim McDermott

'Warmly affecting.' Ken Eisner, Variety

'Excellent' The Movie Times

'[A GREAT WONDER] poignantly shows how these eager new Americans also cling to their own traditions...figures like the orphaned Martha make you want to learn more about [Sudan]...powerful.' Zana Bugaighis, Seattle Weekly

'Provide[s] an alternative way of viewing these youth that challenges the 'uprooted' and 'denuded' refugee stereotype... A Great Wonder help[s] to debunk this myth of 'refugeeness' as an essentializing identity by emphasizing that these youth are more than what they have lost... mesmerizing with [its] first person commentary by the Sudanese refugees describing their hopes, joys, and challenges... By examining Nuer and Dinka within a refugee framework, [A Great Wonder] engage[s] broader theoretical questions about the tension between refugees as victims of larger structural events beyond their control and their adaptive strategies in negotiating complex and shifting circumstances... A Great Wonder with [its] nuanced and spellbinding portrayal of the tragic lives of these resilient youth, help[s] the viewer understand that they can be victims and heroes at the same time.' Dianna Shandy, Ph.D., American Anthropologist

'[A GREAT WONDER] highlights not only the plight of the children of Southern Sudan...but...the general predicament facing children at times of wars and ethnic conflicts...The film the experience gained from their arduous pursuit to stay alive will affect their future characters, and expectations. The film shows how the host families in the US...with different expectations, and perceptions, are absorbing this unique experience differently and hence both guests and hosts are affected by the experience of these children.' Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, African Studies Center

'A story of survival in its most elemental form, A Great Wonder takes a hard-core look at war, and its impact on the lives of these young people [and] the families they left in Sudan. Highly Recommended' Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Shelton, Kim (film director)
Shelton, Kim (film producer)
Kimball, Leigh (film producer)
Kimball, Leigh (videographer)
McMahon, Terri (narrator)

Other credits

Co-producer & camera, Leigh Kimball; editor, Jennifer Chinlund; original music, Todd Boekelheide.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African Studies
American Studies
Conflict Resolution
Developing World
Human Rights
Migration and Refugees
Multicultural Studies
Social Justice
Social Psychology
War and Peace


Lost Boys of Sudan, Seattle, civil war, refugee camps, immigrants; ; "A Great Wonder"; Bullfrog Films

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