Water World: A Sudanese lost boy discovers American poolside culture in God Grew Tired of Us.

Documentary devotees who’ve seen 2003’s Lost Boys of Sudan will already be familiar with about a third of God Grew Tired of Us. The earlier film followed a few of the young Sudanese refugees who in 2001 were relocated to the United States, where they confronted strange customs, mysterious technology, bizarre food, and absurd land-use and transportation policies; much of both movies is devoted to the monumental endeavor of traveling from remote apartment houses to job sites that seem almost as distant as a Kenyan displaced-person camp. The middle section of directors Christopher Dillon Quinn and Tommy Walker’s God Grew Tired of Us covers these sorts of dilemmas, as experienced by John Bul Dau, Panther Bior, and Daniel Abul Pach, all members of the Dinka tribe. But the documentary’s opening chapter provides a more thorough (if hardly definitive) account of the horrors of the Sudanese civil war, which began in 1983 and has claimed some two million lives. Facing Islamic militias’ genocidal campaign against the country’s Christian and animist males, the boys fled to Ethiopia; when that country’s government fell in 1991, many of them marched through perilous Sudan to a new sanctuary in Kenya. (Narrator Nicole Kidman provides some of this backstory.) Once in the United States, Panther and Daniel (who were sent to Pittsburgh) and John (who went to Syracuse) had to deal with survivor’s guilt as well as culture shock and financial travails. A natural leader, John adapts surprisingly well, if not without struggle. He articulately reflects on the boys’ horrific history—he’s the source of the movie’s title—and worries that the younger transplants are losing the group-oriented spirit of traditional Dinka culture as they adapt to the unfriendly, materialistic United States. John ultimately gets news that few of his fellow lost boys will ever receive: Some of his family is still alive. This leads to a reunion that caps the documentary, giving the dismal tale an uplifting outcome. In theory, it may seem inappropriate that any account of Sudan’s lost boys should have a happy ending. In practice, however, it’s altogether satisfying.