“Uplifting!” – Variety
“Irresistible!” – indieWIRE
“You’re never too old to learn.” – AARP
WASHINGTON (Nov. 4, 2011)—National Geographic Home Entertainment announces the release of the uplifting feature film “The First Grader,” available in stores where DVDs are sold Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. The film stars Oliver Musila Litondo (“Ivory Hunters,” “The Lion of Africa”) as the real-life Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge, a Mau Mau veteran yearning for an education. The Los Angeles Times called his performance “compelling.” The film also stars Naomie Harris (“Pirates of the Caribbean,” “28 Days Later”) as head teacher Jane Obinchu.
In a small, remote primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance at free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One applicant creates a stir when he knocks on the door of the school — 80-year-old Maruge (Litondo). Having fought for the liberation of his country, Maruge is desperate to learn how to read at this late stage of his life — even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside 6-year-olds.
Impressed by his tenacity, head teacher Obinchu (Harris) supports his struggle to gain admission. Together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious spot at the school on an old man.
Full of vitality and humor, the film follows the friendships formed by Maruge and his young classmates, who at first regard him with curiosity. Throughout his studies, Maruge reflects on his past and the cost of freedom — his playful days of working alongside the children are punctuated by memories of living under British colonial rule and the harsh conditions of the British detention camps.
Described by AARP as “sophisticated” and “a visual and musical adventure,” “The First Grader” is a heartwarming and inspiring true story of one man’s fight for the right to learn. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.
DVD bonus features include the “Making of ‘The First Grader'” featurette; a docu-short featuring Maruge’s real-life struggle to pursue an education in his native Kenya; and bonus interviews with cast and crew.
“The First Grader” is directed by Justin Chadwick (“The Other Boleyn Girl,” “Bleak House”) from a script by Emmy-winner Ann Peacock (“The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “Kit Kitteridge”).
“The First Grader” can also be found on shopNG.com or by calling (800) 437-5521.
National Geographic Entertainment presents a BBC Films, UK Film Council in association with VideoVision Entertainment, Lip Sync and ARTE France, a Sixth Sense/Origin Pictures production. National Geographic Home Entertainment titles are distributed to the retail marketplace through Vivendi Entertainment.
“The First Grader”
Order Due Date: Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011
Street Date: Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011
Suggested Retail Price: $19.97 (DVD)
Run Time: Approx. 103 Minutes
About National Geographic Entertainment
National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) is part of National Geographic Global Media and combines into a single operating group National Geographic Films (NGF), National Geographic Cinema Ventures (NGCV), Kids Entertainment and Music & Radio. Over the last decade, NGE units have produced or released a number of successful films in both traditional, digital and giant-screen theaters, including the Oscar-winning film “March of the Penguins,” Oscar-nominated documentaries “Restrepo” and “The Story of the Weeping Camel”; giant-screen films “Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure,” “U2 3D” and “Mysteries of Egypt”; and traditional feature-length films “The First Grader,” “The Last Lions,” “The Way Back” and “Amreeka.” Daniel Battsek is president of NGF; Lisa Truitt is president of NGCV; and Mark Katz is president of NGCV distribution.
About Vivendi Entertainment
Vivendi Entertainment is a full-service independent film, television, DVD and digital distribution company operating in the United States and Canada. Representing a vast range of genres including action, comedy, thriller, urban, family, fitness and stand-up comedies, Vivendi Entertainment has become a favorite distribution partner for independent content providers. The company has built an extensive catalog of over 3,000 titles, and its customer-centric business model was founded on the principles of collaboration and financial transparency. The company provides sales, marketing and distribution services to many of the home entertainment industry’s most prestigious brands, including: The Weinstein Company, World Wrestling Entertainment, Classic Media, RHI, Shout! Factory, Salient and Code Black. Vivendi Entertainment is a division of Universal Music Group Distribution, the award-winning sales, marketing and distribution arm of Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music company.