Glenn had the opportunity to interview Ger Duany and Emmanuel Jal on radio today, two of the stars (and real life lost boys of Sudan) featured in ‘The Good Lie’ from Warner Bros. The movie is getting rave reviews and Glenn calls it a ‘perspective game changer’ that every American needs to see. Ger and Emmanuel tell Glenn of the horrors they escaped as child soldiers in the Sudanese civil war. Unbelievable stuff.
Watch a trailer for the film below:
GLENN: About a week and a half ago, I saw a movie I've been telling you to see. It opens up Friday. And I've been telling you you need to bring everybody you know. You need to bring your family, your friends, your kids. I'm coming back to my house in Dallas in weekend assuming we're not under some Ebola quarantine. I'm bringing my family to the movie theater on Friday night to see this movie. It is tremendous. And probably I think the most important movie at the right time for America.
You will be amazed at this story, uplifted by the story. Horrified by the story, but I think most importantly at least I was shamed by this story. Because it puts our American problems into perspective and it puts our Christianity into perspective. Really. What are we doing with our life? And you see us with the eyes of an outsider. It's called The Good Lie. Stars Reese Witherspoon, but quite honestly when I left the theater a couple of weeks ago, I said to the guys from Warner Brothers, as much as I like to talk to Reese, we can talk to her any time. I want to talk to the Lost Boys. I want to talk to the guys who were in it, especially if they had led a life similar to that. They have, and they're here with us.
Ger Duany is here. He plays Jeremiah in the movie, and Emmanuel Jal, he plays Paul. You guys both, first of all. Hello, welcome, and how are you.
VOICE: Hi, thank you.
GER: Thanks for having us.
GLENN: You guys both grew up kind of similar to the movie. You were in the Sudan, and you were taken and forced to fight as child soldiers. Right?
GLENN: What is that like?
GER: Thanks for having us, first of all.
And this film is set in the backdrop of the civil war between the north and south Sudan. In the center of it is our life experiences as a Lost Boy of Sudan who escaped the war in 1987 by foot to Ethiopia. When we reach Ethiopia and the refugee camp which was controlled by the military, we were trained instantly at the age of eight and then stayed in Ethiopia for four, five years. And not only that, in 1991, we encountered the Ethiopian civil war that make us scared everywhere again in Africa. Many of us ran to Kenya and any country that surrounded our country. So I went back to South Sedan and Emanuel the same goes for him. And now we here, we talking about the movie.
GLENN: Did you guys lose all your family as the characters in the movie did?
EMMANUEL: When -- we all have experienced differently because the war reached my family. All my aunts died in the war, including my mom and later to learn my uncles only two that I know that are alive, and so the way you look at it, it's like Hell. So we have experienced Hell on Earth. Sometimes you ask yourself questions if, when we're kids, if this is not Hell, where is the other Hell? Because my mother would tell me that one day the world would end and bad people are going to go to Hell. And so when the bombs dropped -- rained in my village and seeing everything being taken away from me, and I thought that was Hell. And all through our lives, you see six, seven years old, burying their own dead.
GLENN: I saw the scenes in the movie, you know, where I want to live, and so you're drinking your own urine, and a leader is I don't even know, what, eight or ten years old, of this small little group that goes out. He's now the chief.
And the things that these kids are having to deal with. Nobody in America thinks of things like this.
GER: Yeah, our war was very brutal. Especially the previous one was very brutal. Not as much as the current one that's going on now. And you're watching that movie, you see those kids drinking their own urine, it's real. Because in our area, it's dry. To find water, you just have to bet your entire life. Those kind of events they really happen, in this movie, because we're just in a surviving mode.
GLENN: Okay. I want to make sure that you as a listener, please don't think this is a depressing movie. Because I hear this stuff, and I say I don't want to see a movie about the Sudan and the civil war because that sounds depressing. It's really shocking.
EMMANUEL: It's a testimony.
GLENN: I don't know how you guys did it, but it's so uplifting.
EMMANUEL: It's a testimonial movie. Anyone who come there will see how life is. And also for people who have faith, you will see what faith can do. Because faith is the substance of the things hoped for and evidence of the unseen.
Myself, I would put an experience at one point. When you talk about the urine place, we all have an experience. But one of the lowest point I ever had was when I was tempted to eat my friend when we ran out of food. So my friend was dying. And I told him, 'I'm going to eat you tomorrow.' But I remember what my mother used to do. So she come from the church. So she used to pray. So I prayed to my mother's God, and I say, God, if you can give me something to eat today, one day when I survive, I'm going to give the testimony and give the credit to you.
So if you look at the movie, the Bible is a star in its own right.
GLENN: It is. And yet it's not jammed down anybody's throat. I mean, it's very subtly done and beautifully done, but it is the rock that you tie yourself to. Can I ask what happened, you found food the next day?
EMMANUEL: What happened is when I prayed -- because cannibalism started. We're eating snails, vultures. We ran out of food, and we're a group of 2- to 400 young people. We plan an escape. In the end, only 16 people survived in the end.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh.
EMMANUEL: And a crow was the one that answered my prayer that became the block to prevent me from eating my friend.
GER: You know, to add something to that, you know it's true. We have experienced a lot of famine in our area during the civil war, especially 1991 famines has killed thousands of us, let alone the disease. You know, like, we're sitting here. I know like what it is like to be hungry while you're healthy and you really needed it and you can't find it. It's crazy. If you attempted to eat your comrade, that's something -- I'm scared of this guy now.
EMMANUEL: I mean, I've never been in a situation like that where your senses change. My senses changed where, because we haven't showered for days. We haven't eaten, and then my fellow human being smell like dry meat. That's how people smell, those that die. They don't smell rotten. They smell like dry meat. And one time I went under the tree hoping I could find any pieces to eat when nobody is able to see me.
GER: That's like the dry season. I remember like '92 probably like it was a rainy season. There's nothing because nobody cultivated nothing. So how we used to just eat grass and leaves? Then when you go and take a load, and then it come out as greenness. It went through your mouth.
GLENN: So when you guys got here after everything that you saw, this is the part of the movie that really was exceptionally hard for me because you love your characters by the time you get to America. You just love all of you. You're just really -- you two in particular are just exceptional on screen. And then you come here, and Reese Witherspoon shows up and you immediately dislike her because she has no concept and she doesn't care.
No one can relate in our arrogance. No one in our arrogance can relate. So what -- when you really came over as Lost Boys, did you -- what was your experience like?
Jeremiah, the character Jeremiah you played, when he's out in the back of the store and he's like, wait a minute. All this food and you want to help that homeless person. Did you have those kinds of experiences?
GER: We have. Yes, I have those kinds of experiences, but not exactly as Jeremiah encountered those. But to talk about his character, I think he found himself captivated in a society where it's not moving a lot. And you see him in a grocery store where there's so much food, but it has to be thrown away. So things was not adding up to him.
GLENN: You're thinking about I'm going to eat my dude over here. You got to throw away all this perfectly good food. This is nuts.
GER: Yeah. I viewed the boss as a lion. So lion when they speak, metaphorically, it doesn't really mean a lion that ate Paul. This really is a lion in terms of human being that is smart to you and being cruel at the same time. I think that's what Isaiah was referring to.
So in my personal life, when I came here in 1994, we came here to the Lutheran church. And we were like the first group of guys before everybody knew about the Lost Boys of Sudan. They just knew we were a refugee who came to this part of the world. So we didn't know anything. Everything was learning from the very beginning. And that's when I can admit that we are really a lost generation from war.
And later on, we decided to turn to each other and find a strength for what this guy did in the movie. And things came in society where we were welcomed.
GLENN: You guys are both highly successful now. You've done very famous modeling. You've done albums or CDs, and all kinds of stuff, the two of you. Successful.
How have you not lost -- or have you -- how have you not lost that -- how have you not become part of the problem? How do you not become part of yeah, I got all this and it's disposable it's great. It's never going to end.
EMMANUEL: I think that's not the case.
GLENN: The one you play, your character, he does lose his way.
EMMANUEL: He lost his way in so many way because he wasn't focused, and he had so many hopes and dreams, and it wasn't the life that he was hoping.
But in terms of where you're asking about experiences when you come into a new world. If I try to compare the experiences in the movie and actually what I experienced, because in the movie, it's Paul, just to try to see how this shock and how Jeremiah's situation was. The first time I was brought into an organized place, a complex society, where there's toilet in a room, you know, what fascinated me was a toilet. You know, when you go to that toilet. I was wondering when somebody download a file, how that machine takes everything away in front of you. And then clean water comes, and then what I used to do. It's imagination.
So I used to think probably a snake would come out. So when I'm using it. I have to stand hoping when I download the file, probably a snake wouldn't bite me. I just hold it. And so that's one experience.
And if I try to connect it back to Ger's experience coming here, I was in Kenya. I see the TV. I watch the movies about aliens, and I'm reading the Bible. And when I was shock about the cathedrals, the big buildings, the bridges, the train system, and everything, and in my head, I kind of like concluded and said, probably white people are the fallen angels or maybe they're aliens. It took me a while to actually know that these people are normal human beings.
So, I mean, I could go on and on. The life we are living now we've been transformed. I mean, we come from a situation where we're starving at one point. Now, we have plenty to eat. At one time, I was trying to tell kids that I am in a place where I choose to eat one meal a day. And the kids what do you mean, we eat one meal a day? I told them, in this place, people die of fatness. And one kid said, wow, that's the coolest death ever.
And so -- and now you see me like I have music out there. So the truth is this movie we just did, I happened to an album called the Keys. There were two songs are now in the movie. One song is featuring Nelly Furtado.
And so the transformation of our life, we're in a dream. We can't actually believe it. We don't even know how to thank God. Because we've been transformed. The way you look at it, we came from the bottom like lobsters, and now we're rolling at the top like rock stars, you know.
GLENN: It is a pleasure to have you two, and I can't thank you enough for your work and please let everybody know in the movie just how grateful I am that you made it and you made it with such care and such heart. It is truly a masterpiece. Just fantastic movie.
GER: Thank you so much. The sad thing, the thing is we're promoting -- I just came from refugee camp like three weeks ago and the same people we doing the movie about them they are in the refugee camp right now because no country to stand as new state plunged back into civil war. We have dictators. We have a lot of corruption in the country and a lot of famine is killing a lot of children. So this movie right here, not that it's a lost boy story it's a story for humanity and our message to the world is that come support the children of Sudan. Help us find the help that we need that we got from you guys which is American. Because our country --
GLENN: Are you guy on TV with me tomorrow? Do you know?
GER: I'm not sure.
GLENN: I would like to pursue that with you and talk about that.
GER: Please. We enjoy your moment now, though.
GLENN: Thank you so much. The name of the movie is The Good Lie. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Please go see this movie. It opens this weekend in theaters everywhere. It's from the same people that brought us The Blind Side. It's really, really high quality. Really well-done and one of the best stories I've seen in a long time. The Good Lie in movie theaters beginning Friday.