7.5/10
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17 user 66 critic

The First Grader (2010)

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The story of an 84 year-old Kenyan villager and ex Mau Mau veteran who fights for his right to go to school for the first time to get the education he could never afford.

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17 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Tony Kgoroge ...
Charles Obinchu
Alfred Munyua ...
Teacher Alfred
Shoki Mokgapa ...
Teacher Elizabeth
Vusi Kunene ...
Mr. Kipruto (as Vusumuzi Michael Kunene)
Agnes Simaloi ...
Agnes
...
Kamau Chege
Emily Njoki ...
Young Maruge's Wife
Lwanda Jawar ...
Dan 'Churchill' Ndambuki ...
DJ Masha (as Daniel Ndambuki 'Churchill')
Hannah Wacera ...
Maruge's Daughter
John Kimani ...
Maruge's Baby Son
Macharia Kamau ...
DJ's PA
Abubakar Mwenda ...
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Storyline

Set in a mountain village in Kenya the film tells the remarkable true and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last chance to learn to read and write - and so ends up joining a class alongside six year-olds. Together he and his young teacher face fierce resistance, but ultimately they win through - and also find a new way of overcoming the burdens of the colonial past. Written by Unknown

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's never too late to dream.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some disturbing violent content and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

24 June 2011 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Az iskolakezdő  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$20,437 (USA) (13 May 2011)

Gross:

$330,533 (USA) (29 July 2011)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Kgoroge is a frequent collaborator with director Justin Chadwick, having also appeared in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), another film Chadwick directed. See more »

Quotes

Jane Obinchu: Mmzee, they meant for children, not adults.
Kimani Ng'ang'a Maruge: No, I heard it on the radio, with my own ears, they said 'everybody'.
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Crazy Credits

During the initial credits, there is 1. a photo of the real Maruge with some students. 2. a scene with the DJ mentioning Maruge's trip to the UN, and predicting that a Kenyan will ascend to the White House. 3. more scenes of the children at the school See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: The Hangover: Part II (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Zingu 7
Artist: Zola
Composer: Zola (as Bonginkosi Dlamini)/Kabelo Ikaneng
Master: Courtesy of Ghetto Ruff International
Publisher: Ghetto Ruff Publishing Limited & Guluva Entertainment
Sub-publisher: Fintage Music Publishing & Collection B.V.
Used by permission.
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User Reviews

 
An Important Film on Many Levels
18 November 2011 | by (Thailand) – See all my reviews

This is a very good movie which operates at various levels. Ostensibly about an 84 year-old man going to primary school for the first time, it also covers (in graphic detail) a dark period in Kenya's and Britain's past: The Mau Mau Rebellion.

The issues raised are complex: the right for an old man to an education even if it excludes another child in a country of stretched educational resources; the fight for freedom and the integrity of an oath; and the battle against officialdom are but a few. Above all, it's a struggle against adversity on a variety of levels, both past and present.

The Mau Mau Rebellion is often overlooked in histories outside Kenya and this is well portrayed in the film. At times it is frightening and certainly very threatening and the director contrasts the flashbacks of the past with those of the present.

The acting, cinematography, editing are excellent. As is the beautiful yet unobtrusive soundtrack. And even though it becomes a tad clichéd, it is still an impressive and inspiring story. I was very moved by it—not least the dignity of the old man given all the injustices he suffered. Certainly worth a watch and better than a lot of movies I have seen this year.


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