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“The First Grader” Scores At Naacp Image Awards

The First Grader, received five nominations for the 43rd NAACP Image Awards it was announced in the United States last night. The NAACP Image Awards are presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music, and literature. The First Grader received nominations in the following categories: Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actor (Oliver Litondo), Best Independent Motion Picture, Writing in a Motion Picture (Ann Peacock) and World Music Album (Alex Heffes). The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, 17 February in Los Angeles.

The First Grader, shot in Kenya, is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) stars Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo, Vusi Kunene, Tony Kgoroge and Israel Makoe, written by South African born Emmy winner Ann Peacock, produced by Richard Harding, Sam Feuer and David M. Thompson, and executive produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring, Joe Oppeheimer and Norman Merry.

Commenting on the nominations, producer, Richard Harding said, “It is a huge honor for The First Grader to be recognized by an organization as prestigious as the NAACP. The nominations are a testament to the fantastic team we assembled, each of whom have contributed to its success.”

Producer, David Thompson commented, “I am pleased with the accolades that The First Grader continues to receive around the world. The film, which has the simple message that one is never too old to learn, is truly brilliant and we are happy that it has touched audiences internationally.”

Executive Producer, Anant Singh commented, “We are thrilled with the five NAACP Image Award nominations. Justin Chadwick did a fantastic job crafting an excellent film and Oliver’s performance in the film was really powerful and his nomination for the Outstanding Actor is well deserved. We are also delighted with the nomination for the musical talents of Alex Heffes and writer, Ann Peacock whose South African roots gave the film an air of African authenticity.”

The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late 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 six-year-olds. Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu, supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.

The First Grader is a BBC Films and UK Film Council production in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lipsync and ARTE France. It is a Sixth Sense / Origin Pictures production directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Naomie Harris, Oliver Litondo, Vusi Kunene, Tony Kgoroge and Israel Makoe. It is written by Ann Peacock, produced by Richard Harding, Sam Feuer and David M. Thompson and executive produced by Anant Singh, Helena Spring, Joe Oppeheimer and Norman Merry.

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