A Small Act

"Very Good"

A Small Act Review


This multi-layered documentary couldn't be more inspirational if it tried. As it shows the ripple effect of an act of charity, we begin to understand that anything we can do might actually help.

Chris grew up in Kenya in a mud house, but even though he was the top student he couldn't stay in school without sponsorship money through a Swedish charity.

He always wondered about this sponsor, a schoolteacher named Hilde Back. So after studying human rights at Harvard then going to work for the UN, he set out to find Hilde, whose sponsorship set his entire life in motion. He'd even named his educational foundation after her. Once he finds her, he takes her back to Kenya, where she's overwhelmed by the community's reaction.

Meanwhile, Chris' cousin Jane was also sponsored, which helped her escape the pregnancy cycle that starts for most girls by 15. With Chris, she runs a village school that helps children like Kimani, Caroline and Ruth, who are eager to make the most of their education but struggle with their family situations. Most people in this part of the world just stay home all their lives, trapped in poverty without the opportunity to study or work. Education is a life and death issue here, so watching them wait for grades is agonising.

As is watching Kenya dissolve into post-election violence.

With a gentle, organic pace, the film is beautifully photographed, with rich colours and an emphasis on the expressive faces. There's a bit of padding with scenic montages and arty slow-motion shots, accompanied by a floaty music score, all of which makes us think it could have been a tighter one-hour doc.

But the various elements of this story weave together in a way that's genuinely moving.

And Hilde's story is wrenching as well. She grew up Jewish in Germany and was sent to Sweden to escape the Nazis. But her parents killed in the camps. And it's her simple observation that gives the film its centre: there's so much need in the world that you wish you could do something. And the best thing about this film is that it vividly shows us how easy it is to make a real difference.



A Small Act

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st January 2010

Distributed by: HBO Documentary Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Patricia Lee, Jeffrey Soros

Also starring:

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