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Celebrating T.C.'s Sundance Kid

Christopher Quinn's award-winning documentary screens at Film Fest.

Ginger Quinn recalls her trip to Park City, Utah as a surreal experience. "It's such a beautiful setting. You'd wake up in the morning and see just a little of bit of snow that had fallen on the trees as you struggled out of bed to go see a movie at 8 a.m."

What made it even more surreal was that her son, Christopher, was about to make movie history. His documentary "God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of the Lost boys of the Sudan" captured both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.

He certainly had come a long way from his days wandering the halls of T.C. Williams High School.

"It's really incredible," said Ginger Quinn of her son, a 1983 Titans graduate. "There's so much good that's come out of our school system. Christopher is not singular in this. There are many talented kids. I think maybe we were coming through this school system at a golden time, when we as parents worked together."

Ginger and her husband John worked together to raise a talented filmmaker. They'll discuss Chris Quinn's life and their experiences in his making "God Grew Tired of Us" at a special presentation during the Alexandria International Film Festival on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 6:20 p.m. at the US Patent and Trademark Office, 600 Dulany Street. A free screening of the powerful documentary follows, in what festival coordinator Patti North-Rudin said is the Alexandria premiere.

"GOD GREW TIRED of Us" follows three "Lost Boys" from the Sudan, who leave their homeland and move to America, where they build new lives but remain deeply committed to helping those they have left behind.

"I wanted to make sure that this was more than a ‘fish out of water’ story... I knew there was much more to be said," Quinn said on the film's official Web site, www.godgrewtiredofus.com. "This story was about coming into a new world and, despite the fact the it was daunting and crazy and upside down, I was thinking that once they got their footing, they would turn their attentions back to helping their friends and family in Africa. Which is exactly what happened."

Ginger Quinn said her son first came across the "Lost Boys" via a New York Times Magazine cover story. His background in documentary and ethnographic filmmaking at the Anthropology Film Center in Santa Fe, NM provided a strong base.

Quinn's professional connections helped bring the film together. His work with the BBC and PBS, for example, gave him access to archival footage. "Every path to this is kind of long," said Ginger Quinn, whose family has lived in Alexandria since 1961.

She said her son first got into film through acting. As a youngster, he put together a group that took clown lessons at George Mason, and appeared in a performance at the International Children's Festival.

He wasn't much of a sleeper, she said, so Quinn would frequently stay up late with his father to watch old movies on television.

That passion for film continued to grow, to the point where Quinn began filming scenes from a moving car on Prince Street.

Now, Quinn has Hollywood connections. He's completed the feature-length "21 Up America," based on Michael Apted's landmark "Up" series in the U.K. Actress Nicole Kidman narrated "God Grew Tired of Us"; among the producers were actors Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney and Brad Pitt.

Did Ginger and John Quinn have the chance to meet with the executive producer, Mr. Pitt?

Not yet, said Ginger. But the family had an interesting connection with his.

"It's such a two degrees of separation, never mind the six," she said. "Angelina's father, Jon Voight, went to college with John Quinn."