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4.8 out of 5 stars
A Small Act
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2010
Format: DVD
Yes...there are many horrors in the world today - TV news floods us with stories of environmental degradation, terrible crimes, foreclosures out of control, wall street greed. So, from time to time, it is worthwhile to remember that there are random acts of kindness that can create waves of "the good". This is such a story

A child who was rescued from the Nazi holocaust - Hilda Back - later became a schoolteacher. Because she was rescued by a small act of charity, she wanted to give something back to another person. So...she supported an African child - Chris Mburu - from Kenya as a charitable act through those Jewish or Christian charity organizations. Food and school made it possible for this young man to pull himself up from dark poverty. Eventually he became a lawyer, went to Harvard, and even became a chief advocate for human rights as an important employee of the United Nations. And he has gone back to his country to provide education in the midst of bitter civil war and abject poverty. His goal - only education will "enlighten" the young to move towards tolerance and economic sustainability.

The recipient of Hilde Back's charity has returned the gift. He has set up a small educational fund to give - every year - 10 high school scholarships to African children It is likely these boys and girls will become leaders; and so, the wave of goodness continues.

The film compellingly details the strength of will of young people desperate for education in their 3rd world environment of terrible poverty, sickness, and war - a determination of spirit that is usually lacking in America where our educational gifts are taken for granted and squandered.

Overall, the film has the "feeling" of an episode of "CNN's HEROES". The bottom line is that, yes, it is a story of heroes. I truly hope the film will generate an avalanche of charity.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
The absolutely irresistible premise behind Jennifer Arnold's well meaning documentary "A Small Act" is so simple, yet so revelatory. Even the smallest act of kindness can have long range repercussions. The hook of the story revolves around Chris Mburu, a student in Kenya, whose secondary education was funded by a woman in Sweden for a few dollars a month. Chris went on to study internationally at Harvard and became a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations in Geneva. It's a miraculous success story, as most Kenyan students can not afford to go beyond primary school, dependant on a stranger's altruism. There is an added irony that Chris works in Human Rights while his benefactor was a Jewish Holocaust refugee. The film shows what happened as Chris tracked down his savior, the close bond they formed, and how Chris attempts to pay it forward within his home community.

At ninety minutes, the film almost covers too much territory. This central premise is so intriguing and involving, the entire film might have been built around it. It's not, however, and sometimes we lose the primary characters for long stretches of time. I'd say the central narrative drive of the documentary showcases a contemporary school in Kenya and its three most promising students. Chris has established a charity fund to help provide continuing education in the form of scholarships to underprivileged performers. But there are strict guidelines in scoring adequately on a national testing initiative and there are a limed number of slots available. The film plays as high drama as the kids prepare for the test, await its results, and vie for participation in the scholarship program. This, too, would have made a powerful and dynamic film on its own right. In fact, for me, it is the strongest and most moving element within the documentary.

Due to the country's political unrest, however, during the election period in which the film was shot--we're also given some historical, social and political context which also necessarily detracts from the main themes. It's almost like three concurrent documentaries fighting it out for limited space within a ninety minute framework. As a result, the film didn't seem as cohesive as I might have liked--but, I suppose, it's a small point. The film tells a great story (several really) and should be seen by a wider audience. While we can't solve the world's problems, we can choose to be an active participant in making things better. And the film shows that one person can make a difference. Because of about $15 a month years ago, many more children are given opportunities today as that act of kindness has been paid forward. KGHarris, 5/11.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2011
Format: DVD
Our local university sponsored a screening of A Small Act. As I watched I recalled my own experience in a Maasai village where I first became aware of the hunger for education shared by young people in villages with barely the means for daily living. They had some early schooling that accounted for their use and understanding of the English language but in order to continue their education, financial sponsorship was needed. A Small Act puts this story on the wide screen for a wider audience to share my sense of "what if?" for our highly motivated and appreciative third world neighbors. The producer of A Small Act attended the screening and shared her experiences of trying to get this story to the screen with very limited resources. The story was brought to her attention while she was attending the University of Nairobi. She managed to engage a friend who served the dual role as videographer/producer and those two women made a way out of no way to get this story on video. The story behind the story that she shared was almost as entertaining and informative as the story of Hilde's gift and Chris' determination.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
The absolutely irresistible premise behind Jennifer Arnold's well meaning documentary "A Small Act" is so simple, yet so revelatory. Even the smallest act of kindness can have long range repercussions. The hook of the story revolves around Chris Mburu, a student in Kenya, whose secondary education was funded by a woman in Sweden for a few dollars a month. Chris went on to study internationally at Harvard and became a Human Rights Lawyer for the United Nations in Geneva. It's a miraculous success story, as most Kenyan students can not afford to go beyond primary school, dependant on a stranger's altruism. There is an added irony that Chris works in Human Rights while his benefactor was a Jewish Holocaust refugee. The film shows what happened as Chris tracked down his savior, the close bond they formed, and how Chris attempts to pay it forward within his home community.

At ninety minutes, the film almost covers too much territory. This central premise is so intriguing and involving, the entire film might have been built around it. It's not, however, and sometimes we lose the primary characters for long stretches of time. I'd say the central narrative drive of the documentary showcases a contemporary school in Kenya and its three most promising students. Chris has established a charity fund to help provide continuing education in the form of scholarships to underprivileged performers. But there are strict guidelines in scoring adequately on a national testing initiative and there are a limed number of slots available. The film plays as high drama as the kids prepare for the test, await its results, and vie for participation in the scholarship program. This, too, would have made a powerful and dynamic film on its own right. In fact, for me, it is the strongest and most moving element within the documentary.

Due to the country's political unrest, however, during the election period in which the film was shot--we're also given some historical, social and political context which also necessarily detracts from the main themes. It's almost like three concurrent documentaries fighting it out for limited space within a ninety minute framework. As a result, the film didn't seem as cohesive as I might have liked--but, I suppose, it's a small point. The film tells a great story (several really) and should be seen by a wider audience. While we can't solve the world's problems, we can choose to be an active participant in making things better. And the film shows that one person can make a difference. Because of about $15 a month years ago, many more children are given opportunities today as that act of kindness has been paid forward. KGHarris, 5/11.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2010
Format: DVD
"A Small Act" is a compelling documentary which highlights not only the importance of education and working hard but how small acts of kindness can have a wave even tsunami effect - power of one. A must see for all who belong to the human race.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I love this movie. I rented it for an essay that I was writing and I ended up watching it four times while I had it. A small act of kindness really does make a difference.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
My wife Gail and I watched "A Small Act" this evening. What a great film. The movie perfectly captures the spirit of Your Mark on the World.

The movie is about a Swedish holocaust survivor, Hilde Back, who casually decided to sponsor a child in Kenya, and the boy she sponsored, Chris Mburu, who, created a foundation in her name to sponsor similarly situated kids.

Chris grew up in a family without the means to keep him in primary school, but was highest scoring student in the district when he was in school. With Hilde's sponsorship, he stayed in school, completing primary and secondary school, and graduated from college in Kenya. He then completed a masters degree at Harvard.

He now works to prevent human rights abuses in his job working for the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Along the way, he worked through the Swedish embassy in Kenya to find Hilda. She was both shocked and thrilled to find her name on the new foundation. Chris and HIlde have now built a close relationship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This documentary is in a sense about a butterfly effect that directly impacts human beings. It is a story of a teacher in Sweden who decides to sponsor a boy in Kenya, so he can get a high school education. It is a story of that boy, who after graduating from High School, earns a scholarship to Harvard University and eventually graduates from Harvard Law School, works for the United Nations, and decides to start his own scholarship program for disadvantaged children like himself. It is story about three of those children in present Kenya who are studying as hard as they can, working as hard they can to earn one of the coveted scholarships. I defy anyone not to fall in love with any of these kids.
The movie shows us how a small act (hence the title) can have ripples yielding positive results we can barely imagine.
As a child psychiatrist, I also like to recommend this movie to parents of teenagers and pre-teenagers who have a jaded view of school and learning. I think they need to see how in other parts of the world, children are trying with all their might to succeed in school, knowing that success or failure can literally mean life or death for their families. Maybe children here will better appreciate what we so often take for granted if they see this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2011
Format: DVD
This film should be required viewing for middle school students. We take for granted the basic creature comforts we enjoy daily: running water, toilets, electricity, solid homes. In a small African village, the children's only hope for secondary (high school) education is to get a scholarship. They study for weeks to take a difficult aptitude exam. Their scores must be high enough to win a scholarship or trust. This is often the entire family's only hope for support.
The story also features light humor, inspiration and hope. Through a "Sponsor a Child" program, we learn of a boy in the 1970's who is sponsored by a woman in Sweden (equivalent of $40/month today) and is able to attend secondary school. He continues to university, wins Fullbright scholarship to Harvard to study Human Rights Law. He works in many organizations promoting human rights. He begins a sponsorship program in his home village named after his benefactor, Hilde Back. He finally meets his sponsor and both are moved, thrilled. A winning film full of depth of emotion, blight, spirit and hope.
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on March 29, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
It is so inspirational, you are just drawn to the three children and Chris Mburu. A wonderful true story, worth keeping.
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