A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
The heartwarming documentary "A Small Act" centers on the life story of Chris Mburu, who as a small boy living in a mud house in a Kenyan village had his primary and secondary education paid for by a Swedish woman. This cost her $15 a month. They had never met. He went on to the University of Nairobi, graduated from Harvard Law School, and is today a United Nations Human Rights Commissioner.
The film shows Mburu seeking the Swedish woman who "made my life possible." She is Hilde Back. Before even meeting her, in gratitude he started a foundation named the Hilde Back Foundation, to fund scholarships for poor village children. She is now 85 years old, a German Jew who was sent to Sweden as a child. Her family died in the Holocaust. She never married, has lived in the same apartment for 35 years, was a school-teacher. She is a tiny woman, but robust and filled with energy. We see them meeting for the first time.
She is flown to Kenya, serenaded by the choir from Mburu's village, feasted, thanked, gowned in traditional robes. She says that her $15 was an insignificant sum to her, but she kept it up because she thought even a small act was worth performing.
In the film, we see the mud house Chris grew up in. Then we follow Kimani, Ruth and Caroline -- three Kenyan students who hope to win high scores and continue in school. This will depend on winning one of the scholarships. Their families pin all of their hopes on these kids.