Mountainfilm audiences have come to know the hyper-achieving Dr. Geoff Tabin, a world-class climber who has ascended the Seven Summits and who is best known for dramatically changing the rates of curable blindness in Nepal and Rwanda. Tabin and his team from the Moran Eye Center in Park City, Utah, took their operation to South Sudan to work with John Dau (one of the original Lost Boys of Sudan whose remarkable story of survival was featured in the film God Grew Tired of Us 2007). Duk County, which was directed by Jordan Campbell, tells the story of this collaboration in which the sight of more than 200 people was restored. Unfortunately — and perhaps inevitably — this triumph is tainted by the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
In 1983, a horrific civil war broke out in Sudan. Four years later, the government attacked many villages in the south, intending to kill all the men. An exodus of young men — the Lost Boys of Sudan — headed for the relative safety of Ethiopia, but they had to survive soldiers, starvation and predators to reach that country.
John Dau was one of the leaders of the Lost Boys. One horrible night, when he was 12, he woke up to the sounds of bullets in his village and had to leave his home and family to save his life. His next six years were spent largely on the run, finding whatever food and water he could, while watching fellow refugees fall victim to hungry leopards and armed militias. It took him 16 years to get from South Sudan to Syracuse, New York, where he was featured in the documentary God Grew Tired of Us (Mountainfilm 2007). His experience is one of the most remarkable survival stories ever told at Mountainfilm.
Dau has spent much of his time in the U.S., working steadily to build medical facilities in South Sudan, such as the eye clinic he created with eye surgeon Geoff Tabin.In Person: