April 7, 2011

The First Grader

The true story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.
     In a small, remote, mountain-top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance at the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), a Mau Mau veteran in his 80s, who is desperate to learn to read at this stage of his life. He 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 6-year-olds.

     Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris) supports his struggle to gain admission, facing fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

     Based on a true story, THE FIRST GRADER explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with his classmates some 80 years his junior with vitality and humor. Through Maruge's journey, we are taken back to the shocking untold story of British colonial rule 50 years earlier when Maruge fought for the freedom of his country, eventually enduring the extreme and harsh conditions of the British detention camps.

     Directed by Justin Chadwick (THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL) THE FIRST GRADER is a heart-warming and inspiring tale of one man's fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education. The film stars Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo, and was produced by Richard Harding, Sam Feuer and David M. Thompson

Awards as of nowDoha Tribeca Film Festival (Audience Prize for Best Narrative Film), Toronto Film Festival (Audience Prize runner-up), Sedona Film Festival (Best Director's Choice, Audience Choice Award) and The Pan African Film Festival (Audience Choice Award).
Release dateMay 2011.
Footnote : Its never too late to dream and chase after things you love to do.

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