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MULLY Documentary Exceeds Expectations, Shines at Austin Film Festival

Arts And Entertainment

MULLY Documentary Exceeds Expectations, Shines at Austin Film Festival


By: Jayden Beatty

A documentary directed by Scott Haze titled MULLY premiered at the Austin Film Festival last weekend.

From the incredible music choices to the beautiful shots of Africa, the documentary was astoundingly cinematic and entertaining. Produced by Sterling Light Productions, the documentary is based on the life of Charles Mully. Orphaned at the age of 6 in Kenya, Mully grew up to obtain a large amount of wealth. He was known as the “Great Gatsby of Kenya” as he worked tirelessly to expand his multiple businesses in order to obtain the best for himself and his family.

Charles, despite facing skepticism from his community and his own family, decided to sell all of his businesses and start providing food and shelter for orphaned children in Kenya. He does this in response to a call from God. The film chronologically covers Charles’ story and his struggles as he built his currently thriving Mully Children’s Family (MCF) foundation.  

The story itself is so extraordinary that it’s almost unbelievable. I came to the viewing somewhat weary as I expected the film to be an attempt to convince the audience of the divine nature of Charles’ story. I was pleasantly surprised to discover as I was watching that Haze delivered the religious aspects of the story in a subtle way that successfully walks the line between upholding Charles’ beliefs while not making religion the star of the film. Haze uniquely allows the audience to be skeptical and to draw their own conclusions.

The film includes a few reenactments, a compilation of home videos from the Mully family, and interviews with Charles, his wife and children and those he has rescued from the streets. The interviews are beautifully shot with the subjects looking at the camera straight on as if they were having a genuine conversation with the audience. They are raw and authentically emotional. Many documentary directors overly structure the film and end up taking over the voices of the subject but Haze let the people tell the story instead of telling the story for them.

Immensely emotional from the start, the story tackles issues of hunger, HIV, sexual violence, climate change, ethnic violence, and more. This is the first documentary I’ve seen that successfully touches on almost every social issue of this generation while still leaving the audience with a sense of hope at the end. The storylines of those who were rescued are tough to hear and as they start to cry while telling their story it becomes increasingly difficult to watch. These openly emotional and deeply moving interviews provide an extraordinary amount of depth to the film. I appreciated the fact that Haze neither sugar coats nor dramatizes the stories and simply let them impact the audience as is.

The film, while including the social issues that Kenya faces as a country, focuses on the issues within the Mully family. The authenticity of the film is emphasized by the fact that it does not solely praise Mully and his unfailing faith. The film highlights tension within the family and the struggles that each member of the Mully family faced with their father’s decisions. A theme throughout the movie is the tension between being loyal to one’s faith and community and being loyal to one’s family. This honesty and inclusion of genuine family tension makes the film relatable.

Haze and his crew successfully tell a story of the impossible becoming possible through his strategic placement of humor, his perfectly executed reenactments, and the raw emotion brought out of those he interviewed. This documentary is a must see and is my top choice from the 2015 Austin Film Festival.