A Small Act
Charity begins at home, perhaps, but the reach can be much farther than you
can even imagine. A Small Act is a fascinating look at how a
small act of kindness changed a life that the giver never knew about.
Mburu was one of many poor villagers in a tiny Kenyan village whose
opportunities were limited, to say the least. However, because a woman
he never met in a country he had never visited decided to donate the
equivalent of $15.00 a month, he was able to go to Harvard, become a lawyer
and get a job with the United Nations.
many years he wondered about the woman who had subsidized his education.
All he knew was her name - Hilde Beck - and the fact that she was Swedish.
When Mburu decided to form a scholarship fund himself for children in his
childhood position, he recalled Beck and decided to name the fund after her.
He also reached out to the woman.
turns out that Beck was a single school teacher and Holocaust survivor who
had no idea how her regular small donations could change another's life.
part of A Small Act is truly fascinating and it is gratifying to see
the woman and her benefactor meeting and becoming close friends years later.
A Small Act also looks at a darker and more disturbing part
of the story. The producers find three children who are desperate to
win the scholarship because they know without education they have no chance
of escaping the poverty and violence of their country.However,
sections are eye-opening and troubling because of the true desperation of
the entire families and the outbreak of genocidal war which gives even more
import to the escape.
It's fascinating stuff, and yet theatrically it is a
little slow-moving. Occasionally the filmmaking is a tiny bit sloppy. Several points are made
in interviews and later repeated by the same or other interviewees as if
they are new. Long periods have no action - for
example watching the kids waiting for a phone call that doesn't come for
days. It is heartbreaking at the same time that it's a bit dull.
Also, the producer’s decision to pay for school for the students who did not
achieve the scholarship – while a wonderful gesture in real life – tends to
give the film a bit of a reality show feel.
However, despite some small slow
sections, the story of A Small Act and the information that it is
conveying is so vital that it deserves to be seen.
(Note: Despite the fact
that this is listed in the "Available at Your Video Store" section, at the
time of this posting the movie is only available as a documentary running on
HBO. It is almost inevitable that it will be released on DVD, but there is
no official release date set.)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: July 12, 2010.