The Toronto Film Festival acquisition parade continues. National Geographic Entertainment has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to The First Grader, the true story of an 84-year old Kenyan former Mau Mau rebel who battles to get an education. Justin Chadwick directed and Ann Peacock wrote the script. Pic played Toronto and Telluride.
EXCLUSIVE: The international sales arm of the London-based financier is handling worldwide rights apart from US, which it’s sharing with executive producer Anant Singh. The First Grader has been tipped for Venice, and has already been accepted for the London Film Festival in November. Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean) stars in this first feature from former BBC Films boss David M. Thompson. The director is Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl). BBC Films and UK Film Council are also on board.
The film tells the true story of an 84-year-old village elder who used a Kenyan government initiative to introduce free primary school to get the education he always wanted. He took on the government when it tried to stop him attending lessons.
Penny Wolf, head of Goldcrest Films International, tells me: “I loved Ann Peacock’s script when I first read it. It’s such a heartbreaking story.”
Goldcrest hopes to start selling in earnest around the Toronto International Film Festival.