When Chris Mburu and Hilde Back came to Sundance this week to share their story in Jennifer Arnold’s A Small Act they never expected to come away with cold, hard cash. But that’s exactly what happened after their film debuted here on Friday. A Small Act tells the story of Mburu, a Kenyan student who despite his amazing grades had little hope of a future beyond a life of coffee picking, had his life transformed when Back anonymously sponsored him for a few dollars a month. Her donation paved the way for Mburu to graduate high school, go on to college and complete Harvard Law School. A Small Act follows Mburu’s efforts to honor his benefactor while also focusing on three students competing for a national scholarship that could have similar transforming results.
After the film screened for the first time, audience members started pledging their financial support to Mburu’s Hilde Back Education Fund, which sponsors the brightest and most disadvantaged children in Kenya. Mburu and Back walked away with over $10,000 for the foundation, including one very generous $5000 gift from a fellow filmmaker and a $5,000 match from another audience member. Others gave smaller donations. Plus, the unlikely duo met Bill Gates, who attended the Friday night screening, and George Soros, who watched the movie Saturday in Salt Lake City. The doc will debut on HBO this summer. Check out its website here.