Flash Movie Review: The First Grader
Letters come together and form words, and then words come together and form sentences. These simple actions trigger a thought, an idea or even ignite one’s imagination. One of my favorite word games is the one where you are presented one large word and you get a short amount of time to make up as many words as you can, using only the letters of that one word. I have always been in awe of the power words have to paint frescoes along the infinite walls of my mind; to spur me on to learn, to question, to react to image after image as the words I read continuously move the paintbrush in my head with bold strokes. When I first meet a person and find out they enjoy reading, I feel an immediate kinship to them. Because words can teach us in so many ways, I find it puzzling when I hear about school programs being cut or when a person argues over a subject they have little knowledge of due to their lack of investigating it or checking out the facts from the rumors. To me educators are one of the essential backbones of society. There are many instructors who truly are unsung heroes. The one portrayed in this dramatic film based on a true story was very special indeed. In a small village in Kenya there was a school where teacher Jane Obinchu, played by Naomie Harris (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Skyfall), had limited resources to teach all the children that were being enrolled, due to a new law that proclaimed free education for everyone. One day an 84 year old man named Kimani Ng’Ang”A Maruge, played by Oliver Litondo (The Lion of Africa-TV movie, Ivory Hunters-TV movie), stood at the front gate of the school, looking to be taught how to read. The headmaster turned him away but Maruge would return again and again since the law did not list an age limit. I found the story and message in this film festival winning movie absolutely charming and inspirational. Naomie Harris and Oliver Litondo were totally convincing with their roles and I found myself becoming more and more empathetic toward their characters as the story progressed. The directing was too choppy for me but as the story continued, the scenes started to make better sense and the back story came to light. What an amazing movie with individuals who understood the power of words.
3 stars — DVD