Hot Docs 2016: Mully Review

World Showcase 

Mully follows the story of Charles Mully, a Kenyan business tycoon whose altruistic nature and previous life as a street kid leads him to found the Mully Children’s Family charity. Through a set of interviews with Mully, his wife, his eight children and some of the children he rescued and through reenactments, the documentary tells the story of how he created the largest children’s rescue in Africa. The film is a celebration of Mully’s life and his achievements while managing to avoid politicizing the MCF. Mully is triumphant in its delivery and it’s hard not to feel good after watching the film.

Directed by Scott Haze, of Children of God fame, the film can be a little over the top at times. The music swells as the children run with Mully and he picks one up or the plethora of slow motion shots whose sole purpose it hammer home the emotional value of the film. The story is fundamentally interesting and impressive though, so the cinematic impositions don’t detract from the incredible achievement in forming and maintaining the MCF. Further, the interviews with his family members don’t place Mully as an unquestioned hero, which gives the film a sense of nuance.

The most refreshing aspect of this doc is the way in which is strays from the white savior narrative often taken up in documentaries about children in Africa. Rather, Mully is a man who understands the circumstances these children find themselves in and who sees the MCF as a way that Africans can help build a better Africa. While help from the west is important, more integral though a documentary like this is the sense of empowerment in creating a self-sustaining home. The children on of the MCF estates not only receive food and shelter but learn to farm, build bricks, build structures and the properties themselves have intelligent systems that collect rainwater and repurpose it for farming.


While not a typical rags to riches story, Mully is awe inspiring and vivid. The scope of his story and the amount of obstacles he overcame to create the MCF is incredible to watch and definitely worth checking out.

Thursday May 5, 6:00pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 4

Friday May 6, 9:45pm, Isabel Bader Theatre

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