Philippe Falardeau will direct the film from a screenplay by "Warm Springs" scribe Margaret Nagle. Nagle developed the screenplay in the Imagine Writer's Lab, reviving a project that had stalled at Paramount years ago.
The story follows four boys who fled Sudan as violence tore the country apart. After spending years in a refugee camp, they were selected to come to the United States and got a new lease on life with a brash American woman (Witherspoon). It will explore a boy's interaction with the community in America and his struggles to adjust, raising the question of who rescued whom.
Casting for the boys has not been announced.
Smith, who launched Black Label with Trent Luckinbill and Thad Luckinbill, came aboard to finance and produce the film months ago. Black Label will produce with Imagine’s Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Karen Kehela Sherwood. Imagine's Kim Roth and Reliance Entertainment’s Deepak Nayar will be executive producers.
The Lost Boys of Sudan is a group of tens of thousands of young men who were displaced by the Second Sudanese Civil War during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. The war was resolved by a cease-fire that granted South Sudan autonomy and scheduled a referendum for its independence, which has since occurred.
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The issue of orphans and civilian displacement surfaced again during the genocide in Darfur and the secession of South Sudan, which has stoked conflict between the north and south over land and valuable natural resources.
The subject has inspired numerous books, plays and films, including documentaries "God Grew Tired of Us," "War Child" and 'Rebuilding Hope."
Witherspoon is represented by Management 360 and CAA. Falardeau and Nagle are represented by UTA and Nagle (right) is also represented by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and attorney David Matlof.