DER Documentary

Benjamin and His Brother


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by Arthur Howes
87 min, color, 2002




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Years of war and ethnic conflict in the Sudan have created a generation of young men, known as the "Lost Boys," who have spent more years in refugee camps than in their home communities. This intimate film recounts the story of Benjamin and William Deng, brothers joined in the struggle of a seemingly never-ending exile, who are then separated when one is accepted into a United States resettlement program while the other remains in a Kenyan refugee camp. It is not only a film about the two brother's dreams and reality, it is also a film about war and suffering in their beloved South Sudan, lost childhood and innocence, the trials of life as a refugee in foreign lands and the existing realities of survival. Real life in the so called "Land of dreams" – America, is not an easy adjustment.

"... In 1987 over 20,000 Southern Sudanese boys known as 'The Lost Boys' walked from Sudan to Ethiopia, and to Kenya with promises of an education away from the chaos and war in Southern Sudan. Now, fifteen years later, they are being resettled in the USA." — Arthur Howes.

"...I am called Benjamin, I was eight years old when I left my mother and my father and my lovely country Sudan. There I joined the multitude of children walking to Ethiopia, and eventually we are here now in Kakuma, which is in Kenya, and I am on the way now going to America with seven thousand of us.Where will you be taken to in America? I don't know? What will America be like? I don't know" — Benjamin.

"... Traditionally they think that when you get to the modern world, you become addicted to the modern ways, but America is not going to change me completely, from William to someone called America. There is a Gold in America, and this Gold is called Education – They told me to go and dig this gold and bring it back to them." — William.

"Benjamin and His Brother is an extraordinary piece of film-making: a story which is both "true" in the ordinary sense that it actually happened (and continues to develop), but also true in the deep sense, with the force and weight of myth. Shortly after we meet Benjamin, his life is hit by yet another calamity: William is due out of Kakuma on the next airlift, but there has been a bureaucratic cock-up, and Benjamin is left behind. The film follows William to Houston, Texas, where he gets a minimum-wage job in a supermarket and discovers he has a grandmother and cousins, alive and well in Kansas City. Benjamin waits on in Kakuma, where he is waiting still." The Independent

About The Filmmaker
British filmmaker Arthur Howes is very good friend of the marginalized people of Nuba mountains and South Sudan, who has made two brilliant films about the Nuba in Sudan, namely, Nuba Conversations and Kafi's Story. Benjamin and His Brother is his most recent film which Arthur considers to be the first in a trilogy about the brothers.


Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Margaret Mead Festival, New York, 2002
Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California 2002
Montreal Film Festival 2002
Honorable Mention, forumdoc.bh, Documentary & Ethnographic Film Festival, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2002
Human Rights Watch Film Festival, London, 2003
Prix Nanook, Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris, 2003
13th Festival Cinema Africano, Milan, Italy, 2003
Pan African Film & Arts Festival, Los Angeles, 2003
Northeastern Anthropological Association Film Festival, Burlington, Vermont, 2003
Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2003
Beeld voor Beeld Film Festival, Amsterdam, 2003
National Collegiate Conference on Refugees, Villanova University, 2003
Cascade Festival of African Films, Portland, OR, 2003
Ritzy Cinema, London, 2003
International Environmental Film Festival, Turkey, 2003
8th RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film, London, 2003
Edinburgh Filmhouse, Edinburgh, UK, 2003
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, Arkansas, 2003
Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association Conference, Chicago, 2003
Oakland International Film Festival, California, 2003
4th SIMA Film Festival, Tehran, Iran, 2003
Black Harvest Film Festival, Chicago, 2003
DocSide Touring Film Festival, 2003
Refugee Council with Screenstation, London, 2003
Germany XVII. Fernsehworkshop Entwicklungspolitik, 2003
Document 1Film Festival, Glasgow, 2003
ICAES, Session on Visual Anthropology, Florence, Italy, 2003
Global Peace Film Festival, Orlando, Florida, 2003
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003
Oxford Brookes Human Rights Film Festival, Oxford, UK, 2004
5th Starz Denver Pan African Film Festival, Colorado, 2004
Amnesty International USA On Campus Film Festival, traveling, 2004
Zanzibar International Film Festival, Tanzania, 2004
Zimbabwe International Film Festival, 2004
Ethnocinema Days, Moscow, 2010

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