Hollywood film reflects lives of West Michigan family and Sudanese lost boys

Posted at 11:00 PM, Oct 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-23 23:00:46-04

GRANDVILLE, Mich.-- It`s a Hollywood film premiering across the United States with deep roots right here in West Michigan. The film is about three Sudanese boys traveling thousands of miles to escape the horrors of war in their home country, eventually making it to America against all odds.

“This movie is a tribute to all the collective work that people do for the betterment of humanity, and it shows West Michigan is in the center of it,” said Thon Chol one of the lost boys featured in the movie.

The boys survival is accompanied by a man who took them in and called them his own, a man from Grand Rapids.

The true life story of these boys making it to America inspired the audience in West Michigan tonight at the Movie Premiere in Grandville. One family saw the life they’ve been living out for the past ten years on the big screen, a lif that changed their family forever when these boys arrived.

“It can trigger the old memories,” said Chol.

Thon Chol admits that sitting to watch the premiere of the movie that is based on his journey from Sudan to America, triggers the flashbacks of losing family through the horrors of war, and walking thousands of miles through three countries.

“It reflects a dramatic situation of how many of us left in fear as a result of gunshot and all that,” he said.

the ‘Good Lie' is the story of Sudanese lost boys who escape brutal war in South Sedan , and find their way to America. Chol lived out this journey, and ended up in one place in the United States that changed his life.

“Coming back to Grand Rapids this is where I call home, this is the city that prepared me to be a better citizen. I’m a product of West Michigan” he said.

The man who took Chol and four other boys, into his home as his own children, is David Bowman, the character Reese Witherspoon plays in the film.

“I will never forget Thon sitting on the edge of the bed, and saying ‘so what can we call you? Can we call you father?’ I got all choked up. I said you can call me father but you can also call me dad,” said Bowman.

Bowman heard the story of what his new sons went through.

“They have nothing, we have everything. I was so touched when i heard what these boys had been through,” he said.

Because of that Bowman’s passion for the crisis in Sudan, he went on to found Partners in Compassionate Care, a group of 9 from West Michigan that built a hospital in Sudan in 2004. It started with 24-beds, and has helped treat more than 64-thousand Sudanese to date.

“We are looking to another area to the North of us because the needs are so great, people are dying because there is no health care,” said Bowman.

Bowman hopes the film won`t just inspire thought, but action.

“I want them to walk out of these doors and want to do something, want to help,” he said.

Chol says it’s important not to just realize the struggle refugees from Sudan go through, but throughout the whole word.

“It’s about the total human transformation, going from nothing to something,” said Chol.