First Grader triumphs at Kenya film fest


The First Grader scooped the main prizes at the Kenyan International Film Festival, winning the Best Actor (Oliver Litondo), Best Actress (Naomie Harris) and Best Film awards.

This was announced at the closing ceremony of the Festival in Nairobi on 30 October.

The film, co-produced by Durban-based Videovision Entertainment, BBC Films, UK Film Council and Origin Pictures is directed by Justin Chadwick and stars Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris as well as South African actors Vusi Kunene, Tony Kgoroge, Israel Kakoe and Shoki Mokgapa.

The success of The First Grader at the Kenyan International Film Festival is of special significance as it marks the culmination of the successful journey of an authentic Kenyan story which has received acclaim around the world, and returning to its roots to take the top prizes at Kenya’s premier film festival. 

Commenting on receiving the Best Actor Award, Oliver Litondo said, “I am honoured to have won the Best Actor Award for playing Maruge, one of the most inspirational Kenyans of modern times, who made a strong statement about the value of education, underscoring the fact that one is never too old to go to school.’ 

Executive Producer, Anant Singh said, “We are delighted that The First Grader won the coveted prizes at the Kenyan Film Festival.  It certainly is a triumph for the film and we are thrilled that Kenyans have embraced a story that is their own.’

The First Grader has found success at top international films since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in 2010. Among the awards are: The DGB Trade Union Award – Audience Choice and The Bernhard Wicki Award – Best Film at the Emden International Film Festival; the Audience Award: Best Feature Film and Director’s Choice Award: Best Feature Film at the Sedona International Film Festival; the Audience Award at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival; Best Film at the Palm Beach Film Festival and was runner-up to The King’s Speech for the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival as well as the Audience Prize at the Durban International Film Festival. 

Last week, Music Composer, Alex Heffes, won the Discovery of the Year prize for his work on The First Grader at the 2011 World Soundtrack Awards held at the 38th Ghent International Film Festival.

The First Grader is currently on release in South Africa and is scheduled to be released in Kenya and the rest of East Africa and West Africa in December 2011.


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