National Geographic Snags First Grader

National Geographic Entertainment

By Pamela McClintock - Variety

National Geographic Entertainment is going back to school, snagging U.S. rights to Toronto Film Festival entry “The First Grader.”

Festgoers chose the pic as runner-up for the Toronto People’s Choice award. The acquisition caps a particularly busy festival, during which more than a dozen pics found U.S. distribution.

Directed by Justin Chadwick from a script by Ann Peacock, the pic is based on the true story of an 84-year-old Kenyan man’s battle to get an education.

“First Grader,” which garnered favorable critical response at the Telluride and Toronto fests, stars Oliver Musila Litondo and Naomie Harris.

Produced by Sixth Sense/Origin Pictures Productions, “First Grader” is a presentation of BBC Films and the U.K. Film Council in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lip Sync and ARTE France. Producers are David M. Thompson, Sam Feuer and Richard Harding. Joe Oppenheimer, Anant Singh, Norman Merry and Helena Spring exec produced.

“When I saw ‘The First Grader,’ I knew immediately that National Geographic should acquire it. It’s not only about historic political events, but it tells the personal story with great warmth and humor,” National Geographic Entertainment prexy Daniel Battsek said.

Battsek has made a handful of strategic festival buys since arriving at National Geographic from Miramax, including docu “Restrepo” and Mt. Everest adventure “The Wildest Dream,” as well as the upcoming “Desert Flower,” “Flying Monsters 3D” and “Blue Man Group: Mind Blast.”

Origin Pictures’ Thompson called National Geographic a perfect fit for the film.

Distant Horizon’s Singh repped domestic rights to “First Grader” (Distant Horizon co-financed the pic). Goldcrest International’s Penny Wolf is handling international sales.


Awards - The people have spoken.

TIFF People’s Choice Awards

The Calgary Herald

The winner of the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival is Tom Hooper’s lighthearted royal drama The King’s Speech.

It chronicles the efforts of King George VI (Colin Firth) to rid himself of a chronic stutter, aided by an unorthodox Australian speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush).

The runner-up for the People’s Choice Award was Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader. Based on a true story, it follows an uneducated 84-year-old Kenyan man who learned his government was offering free primary education and showed up on the first day, ready to learn.


Runner-Up Award for First Grader

TIFF 2010

New York Magazine

The King’s Speech - the Colin Firth/Geoffrey Rush drama about a king’s attempts to overcome his stutter - has won the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival, confirming its status as an Oscar frontrunner. Runner-up for the audience prize was the Justin Chadwick-directed First Grader. The two most recent winners of the prize were Precious last year and Slumdog Millionaire in 2008.


TIFF Cadillac People's Choice Award

Toronto International Film Festival

TIFF Press Release

The Cadillac People’s Choice Award is voted on by Festival audiences. This year’s award goes to Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” (United Kingdom/Australia). The King’s Speech tells the story of King George VI. After his brother abdicates, George ‘Bertie’ VI (Colin Firth) reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded nervous stammer and considered unfit to be King, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). The award offers a $15,000 cash prize and custom award, sponsored by Cadillac. Runner-up is Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader (United Kingdom).


35th Toronto Film Festival Photos

The First Grader cast and crew photos from the 35th Toronto International Film Festival including portrait photography in the Guess Portrait Studio in the Hyatt Regency Hotel; images of director Justin Chadwick, actress Naomie Harris and actor Oliver Litondo at The Variety Studio at Holt Renfrew on day 3 of the festival; as well as Justin Chadwick, producer David M. Thompson, scriptwriter Ann Peacock and crew at The First Grader Dinner Party held at Opus Restaurant.

Source : Zimbio.com