Saturday, 2 March 2013

Naomie Harris, the brainy British beauty starring in The First Grader - Vanityfair.com 20.5 2011


SPOTLIGHT


Naomie Harris, the brainy British beauty starring in The First Grader.



Naomie Harris, 34, has been acting in Britain since she was nine, and along the way she has managed to earn a degree in political science from Cambridge and has trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Director Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire)introduced her to international audiences in 2002 in 28 Days Later, his hit film about Londoners combating zombies. Most recently Harris starred in Boyle’s very successful production of Frankenstein at the U.K.’s National Theatre. “Danny is a complete and utter genius,” says Harris. “He is absolutely brilliant at giving notes: This is what you need to be giving the audience, this is what you need to be feeling.… You relax and let yourself be carried through the journey by him.” This month she stars in The First Grader (National Geographic Entertainment), which was an audience favorite at both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Based on an article in the Los Angeles Times by Robyn Dixon, it is the story of a teacher in Kenya (Harris) who fights for the right of an 84-year-old villager to be educated despite his age. Justin Chadwick, who directed the award-winning British TV mini-series Bleak House and the movie The Other Boleyn Girl, filmed The First Grader entirely on location and used lots of local talent. The experience was exhilarating for Harris. “There was an incredibly generous spirit among these people,” she says. “At the start I was thinking, Oh, I’m going to work with these really poor children, and I’m going to be so affected by the fact that they have so little, when we in the West have so much. Actually, what I was struck by was they have so much, and we have so little. They have a strong sense of family, a strong sense of community—a real sense of belonging. I was incredibly touched by that.”

Photos: Naomie at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party 2013

Naomie Harris - 2013 Vanity Fair Oscar Party at Sunset Tower - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Monday 25th February 2013



The First Grader TV premiers tonight on BBC2 at 22.30


The First Grader - The Movie

DURATION: 1 HOUR, 37 MINUTES
Drama about an 84-year-old ex Mau Mau freedom fighter who wants to take up the offer of the new Kenyan government to guarantee free education for all so that he can learn to read. However, when he presents himself for the first day of term at a local school he encounters resistance from... 
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Short Synopsis

Directed by Justin Chadwick

In a small, remote mountain top primary school in the Kenyan bush, hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school.  He is Maruge (Oliver Litondo), an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life.  He fought for the liberation of his country and now feels he must have the chance of an education so long denied - even if it means sitting in a classroom alongside six-year-olds.
Moved by his passionate plea, head teacher Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), supports his struggle to gain admission and together they face fierce opposition from parents and officials who don’t want to waste a precious school place on such an old man.
Full of vitality and humour, the film explores the remarkable relationships Maruge builds with his classmates some eighty years his junior. Through Maruge’s journey, we are taken back to the shocking untold story of British colonial rule 50 years earlier where Maruge fought for the freedom of his country, eventually ending up in the extreme and harsh conditions of the British detention camps.
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 KITTRIDGE), THE FIRST GRADER is a heart warming and inspiring true story of one man’s fight for what he believes is his right in order to overcome the burdens of his past. It is a triumphant testimony to the transforming force of education.
The filming process itself was quite extraordinary, as the children in the film – who are in many ways the stars – had never even seen a film or television set before let alone been involved in the filming process. Their involvement in the shoot was a totally novel experience for them and their enthusiasm and energy is captured beautifully on screen.

Naomie Harris (Jane)

As well as working on big budget Hollywood Movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,Naomie Harris (Jane) continues to choose challenging and exciting roles in smaller and more diverse films such as THE FIRST GRADER. London-born Naomie graduated with honours from Cambridge University in 1998 with a degree in social and political science. She went on to train at the prestigious Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and had her first major acting breakthrough in 2002 with Danny Boyle’s zombie horror film 28 Days Later. She went on to receive further international recognition and critical acclaim in her role as Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End. Other major feature film credits includeMichael Mann’s Miami Vice, Michael Winterbottom’s A Cock and Bull Story, and Street Kings with Keanu Reeves and Forrest Whittaker.
Most recent feature film projects include: Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll with Andy Serkis; Ninja Assassin directed by James McTeigueJulian Kemp’s My Last Five Girlfriends: and, THE FIRST GRADER, written by Ann Peacock and directed by Justin Chadwick.
Major television drama credits have included: Julian Jarrold’s White Teeth, based on Zadie Smith’s best-selling novel; Peter Kosminsky’s The Project; Poppy Shakespeare:  and, more recently Blood and Oil and Small Island for the BBC.
Accolades include :
2003 - Winner Best Actress at the Monte Carlo Television Festival
2007 - Winner Rising Star Tribute Award at the Bahamas International Film Festival
2007 - Nomination BAFTA Orange Rising Star
2007 & 2009 - Winner Best actress at the Screen Nation Awards
2010 - Winner Best Actress at The Royal Television Society Awards



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  • NAACP Image Awards The First Grader , received five nominations for the 43rd NAACP Image Awards it was announced in the United States last week. The NAACP Image Awards are presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor outstanding people of color in film, television, music, and literature . The First Grader received nominations in the following categories: Outstanding Motion Picture , Outstanding Actor ( Oliver Litondo ) , Best Independent Motion Picture , Writing in a…
    • Oliver Litondo - Best Actor Black Film Critics Circle Oliver Litondo who plays the tenacious, 83-year-old Maruge in the award-winning movie, The First Grader , which is co-produced by Videovision Entertainment , won the Best Actor Award from the Black Film Critics Circle it was announced last night. Founded in 2010, the Black Film Critics Circle is comprised of film critics of colour who write for daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines, radio, television and qualifying on-line publications in the…
      • The Gotham Independent Film Awards The award-winning film, The First Grader, co-produced by Videovision Entertainment has been nominated for the prestigious Gotham Independent Film Awards coveted Genius Audience Award it was announced in New York last night. The Gotham Independent Film Awards , are held under the auspices of the Independent Filmmaker Project and are selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York, which is acknowledged as the home of independent film. These Awards are the first…
        • SKYFALL - 23rd film in the James Bond Franchise The star of the Videovision Entertainment’s The First Grader , Naomie Harris , who plays the lead role of Jane Obinchu in the multi award-winning film , has been cast in the new James Bond film, Skyfall , the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise. Harris will play one of the most famous and memorable roles of the Bond franchise, that of Miss Moneypenny . Harris, who gives a powerful performance in The First Grader, won the Best Actress Award at the Kenyan…
          • Kenya International Film Festival 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 it was announced at the closing ceremony of the Festival in Nairobi last night. 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…
            • 38th Ghent International Film Festival Music Composer, Alex Heffes , won the Discovery of the Year prize for his work on The First Grader at the 2011 World Soundtrack Awards which were announced at the closing event of the 38th Ghent International Film Festival on Saturday, 22 October 2011. The Awards is an initiative of the World Soundtrack Academy which was launched in 2001 by the Ghent Film Festival, is aimed at organizing and overseeing the educational, cultural and professional aspects of the art of…
              • Johannesburg, South Africa The First Grader, co-produced by Durban based, Videovision Entertainment , the BBC , UK Film Council and Origin Pictures had its South African premiere in Johannesburg with the director, Justin Chadwick and local actors Vusi Kunene , Tony Kgoroge , Israel Kakoe and Shoki Mokgapa with Executive Producers, Anant Singh and Helena Spring in attendance. The Guest of Honour at the event was Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty while other VIP guests included Deputy Minister…
                • Durban International Film Festival The First Grader, co-produced by Durban-based, Videovision Entertainment , won the coveted Audience Award at the 32nd Durban International Film Festival it was announced at the Festival’s awards ceremony. The film had its South African premiere on Sunday (24 July) at the Festival with actors Oliver Litondo and Tony Kgoroge, Executive Producer Anant Singh and Guest Of Honour, Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Paul Mashatile in attendance. The Audience Award at the Durban…
                  • Durban International Film Festival 2011 South Africa  The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school. He is Maruge, an old Mau Mau veteran in his eighties, who is desperate to learn to read at this late stage of his life. He fought for the liberation of his…
                    • National Geographic Entertainment The First Grader will be released in the United States on May 13, 2011 by National Geographic Entertainment . The film will be launched in New York and Los Angeles and then expanded to other US cities in the forthcoming weeks. The First Grader, based on a true story, is set in a remote primary school in the Kenyan bush where hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education promised by the new Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment…
                      • Videovision Entertainment’s ‘First Grader’ Tops The Class at the Palm Beach Film Festival The Videovision Entertainment co-production, The First Grader, won the Best Feature Film Award of the Palm Beach International Film Festival last night. The film, shot in Kenya, is directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) stars Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo , Vusi Kunene , Tony Kgoroge and David Chege , written by Emmy winner Ann Peacock , produced by David M. Thompson , Sam Feuer and Richard…
                        • Doha Tribeca Film Festival The First Grader which was the Closing Night film at the Second Doha Tribeca Film Festival last night where it captivated audiences, garnering the Audience Prize for Best Narrative Film. The Award was presented to director, Justin Chadwick and the team by actor, Robert De Niro . Also in attendance were the leads, Kenyan star, Oliver Litondo and Naomie Harris ; Producer, David M. Thompson and Executive Producer, Anant Singh . The First Grader has consistently been a hit with…
                          • The First Grader Philip Concannon - Phil on Film This is conventional, tick-the-boxes filmmaking and you can predict its narrative arc from frame one, but The First Grader is a solid crowd-pleaser nonetheless. It’s based on the true story of Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge ( Oliver Litondo ) , an 84 year-old who turned up at a local school one day when the new Kenyan government announced free education for all. Undeterred by the teachers’ insistence that the offer is aimed only at children, Maruge…
                            • Topi-Talk The spirit of Maruge, the 84 year old first grader, was brought to London on a chilly autumn evening, when  star actor Oliver Litondo and lead actress Naomie Harris stepped on to the red carpet at the Odeon in Leicester Square. Away from the glamour however there were some fundamental issues raised by the stars. The First Grader may well be a landmark in Kenya’s Film Industry, but the lack of creativity and understanding of the power of film by those in position, has put paid to a great…
                              • London Film Festival 2010 Press Association - Mirror Video - People.co.uk The First Grader was inspired by the true story about a Kenyan man who goes back to primary school at the age of 84 to get the education he always wanted. Click here to watch the London Film Festival premier on YouTube…

                                • justin chadwick
                                  naomie harris
                                  oliver litondo
                                  vusi kunene
                                  • Durban International Film Festival (Audience Award – Feature Film)
                                  • Emden International Film Festival (The DGB Trade Union Audience Choice Award and The Bernhard Wicki Best Film Award)
                                  • Doha Tribeca Film Festival (Audience Prize for Best Film)
                                  • Toronto Film Festival (Audience Prize runner-up)
                                  • Sedona Film Festival (Best Director’s Choice, Audience Choice Award) 
                                  • The Pan African Film Festival (Audience Choice Award)
                                  • Palm Beach Film Festival (Best Feature Film Award)
                                  • Nashville International Film Festival (Audience Choice Award)
                                  • 360/365 Film Festival - Rochester (Audience Prize for Best Film)


                                  The First Grader - The Movie