THE FIRST GRADER – THE MOVIE
A new film making international waves is the heart warming Justin Chadwick-directed “The First Grader” which tells the true inspirational story of an 84-year-old Kenyan man’s struggle for learning and dignity.
The First Grader is the debut feature of ex-BBC chief David M. Thompson’s new production company, Origin Pictures, and was backed by BBC Films and the UK Film Council in association with Durban-based Videovision Entertainment, Lip Sync and ARTE France. The Sixth Sense/Origin Pictures production was scripted by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock (The Chronicles of Narnia, Nights in Rodanthe, Kit Kittridge) and was produced by David M. Thompson, Sam Feuer and Richard Harding. Exececutive producers were Joe Oppenheimer, Anant Singh, Norman Merry and Helena Spring.
The setting for The First Grader is an isolated mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, where hundreds of children are jostling for a place to get a free education, recently promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment among the teachers when he knocks on the door of the school. His name is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. Maruge fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied – even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds.
Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), supports his struggle to gain admission to the school and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school position on such an old man.
Full of vitality and humour, the film explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with his classmates, some eighty years his junior. Through Maruge’s journey, we explore the shocking untold story of British colonial rule some 50 years earlier, where Maruge fought for the freedom of his country, eventually ending up in the torturous conditions of the British detention camps. The First Grader is a triumphant testimony to the transformational force of education.
When screened for the first time at the 2010 Telluride International Film Festival, The First Grader received a heartfelt standing ovation before scooping the runner-up position for the People’s Choice Award at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival. Following Toronto, ex Miramax president Daniel Battsek secured the US distribution rights to The First Grader for National Geographic Entertainment, who’s mandate is “to reveal something about our world”.
Anant Singh at Distant Horizon, which co-financed the film, is handling the domestic sale of “The First Grader;” and Penny Wolf at Goldcrest International, is handling international sales.
iKind Media is proud to have been able to assist The First Grader team with the design, construction and maintenance of The First Grader official movie website.
The website comprises The First Grader movie trailer, latest news updates, a long and short synopsis, cast and crew bio’s, a photo gallery, high resolution press images, the full downloadable production notes, and a mobile version with trailer optimised for iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry.