I was talking with my friend Mike on the phone yesterday about it and he said, “I’m not sure if Helen Mirren will win now, everyone has “Mirren fatigue.” I responded, “That’s not HER fault.” The problem with the Oscars is that there are SO MANY awards leading up to it that Oscar night itself feels very anti-climatic. It feels like opening all of the presents on Christmas morning when you know exactly what is in each box. There is no element of surprise. There are a truckload of critics awards, the Golden Globes, Broadcast Critics, SAG awards and so on. This year (as with many years) the same exact people have won every award. I don’t hold that against them at all. I’m sure their work is deserving, but it just makes for a dull Oscar night. Why are these other shows really necessary? It just all seems to be way too much overkill in my humble opinion. What if there were NO awards before the big night? There would be a much greater air of suspence. There would be no playbook or set of assumptions to work from. The results would be fresh and wouldn’t just feel like a repeat of every award show leading up to it. The stakes would be much higher….or at least it would feel that way to me. As evidenced by today’s NY Times article, I may not be the only one out there who feels this way.
The film focuses on three of these men John Bul Dau, Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Blor as they leave the refugee camp for America. As they set out on this journey, they provide unexpectedly funny glimpses into what life must be like for someone new to American culture and modern conveniences. They ask questions like, “What is an apartment? What is a donut?” They even eat the butter and ketchup on the airline tray thinking it is part of the meal. They have a sense of wonder, awe and confusion at life in cities like Syracuse, Pittsburgh and New York. Their cultural experiences are humorous, but also tragic at the same time. It is painful to realize how many of them were not able to come to America and were left behind to struggle on in the refugee camp.
The title “God Grew Tired of Us” refers to Daniel’s belief that God had forsaken them. What struck me so much about the film was how strong and determined these men were in the face of such unimaginable hardship. Many of them describe death, famine, violence and horrors that we as Americans can’t even fathom except for possibly watching segments about them on Dateline or CNN. Upon arrival in America these men each work multiple jobs so they can attend college, get an education and help their families and their country. They have such a resiliant spirit and such a fierce determination to effect change in their country. It is impossible not to be moved by their words and actions.
GOD GREW TIRED OF US is the a powerful film that has the ability to make a major impact long after the lights are up and the projector has stopped.