Such Great Heights

This is a story about the optimism of the survivor.  Centered around a group of young men, originally from South Sudan and resettled on UN refugee visas in Blacktown, Sydney Australia this feature length documentary follows three literary threads: a boy, a team and a country, each following a dream.

A boy: AterMajok was born in South Sudan in 1987.  He migrated to Sydney Australia through a refugee camp in Egypt. Upon arrival in Sydney, he bonded with a group of young men from South Sudan, called the South Stars basketball team.  His height 6’11”, did not make up for his lack of basketball skills;  when he started playing basketball, “he couldn’t hit the side of the backboard.”  Yet, he dared to dream of making it to the next level.  After three years with the South Stars, Coach Calhoun and the national championship-caliber UConn Huskies came calling. Ater migrated to the United States and played two seasons for the Huskies before leaving to represent several international teams.  With himself as his own guiding light, Ater declared himself eligible for the NBA draft.  Ater watched as, one by one, 57 basketball players were drafted.  With only three picks remaining, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Ater Majok at the 58th pick of the 2011 NBA draft.

A team: The South Stars were started in 2006, in order to help a group of young refugees resettle in Sydney Australia, from the South Sudan.  Many of the players had experienced war, disease, exoduses, refugee camps and struggled to have their most basic needs of life met. After gaining local and community support, the South Stars gained some backing from the national bodies and in 2008, the South Stars finished runner up in the Sudanese-Australian National Championship.  Yet they still struggle every day to stay together as a team and to find the resources and support to keep them going.  The 2011 SANC signals the departure of their head coach and the future of the team is uncertain. With big hearts and wisdom beyond their years, will the South Stars find what it takes to win and to stay together?

A country:  South Sudan gained independence in 2011, after decades of violence and warfare.  With 4 million displaced and up to2.5 million dead, the United Nations declared a crisis, allowing some South Sudanese to flee as refugees.  Despite insurmountable odds, in July 2011, with South Sudan gained independence. Yet every day, war, death and displacement is still a reality in the world’s newest country.   Still, with an optimism only possible by those who have experienced the depths of human suffering, the South Sudanese people press on, believing that someday they will transcend their past and build a better future.

‘Such Great Heights’ is a story about the optimism of the survivor.  Follow Ater Majok, the South Stars and South Sudan, as each dares to dream.

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