Kenyan actor wins top US film award
Posted by Administrator on February 8, 2012
By ANTONY KARANJA in DALLAS, TEXAS
Kenyan actor Oliver Litondo on Monday won the Best Actor award at the 11th Annual AARP movies award gala for his role in the movie The First Grader.
Litondo scooped the prize in a category that included famed actors George Clooney, (The Descendants); Mel Gibson, (The Beaver); Gary Oldman, (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); and Kevin Spacey, (Margin Call).
Hollywood elite who had packed the hall in Beverly Hills, California gave Litondo a standing ovation after a 50 second snippet of the movie was played showing an illiterate Kenyan elder named Kimani Maruge, begging a first grade teacher (Naomi Harris) to teach him how to read.
The short piece gripped the Hollywood royalty who immediately realized that Litondo travelled all the way from Kenya to accept the award.
Litondo played the part of Maruge, the 84-year-old man who enrolled in a remote Kenyan primary school so he could learn to read.
During his acceptance speech, the newscaster-turned-actor made a plea for filmmakers to go and make movies in Kenya, where “our young people are educated but unemployed.”
The First Grader went by virtually unnoticed in the US other than by quite a number of Kenyans who tuned in to watch the drama once it debutted on HBO an American premium cable television network.
Though the drama was little known, the AARP editors gave it rave reviews and decided to consider it for the award.
Others who received awards at the event were Sharon Stone who received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Martin Scorsese, receiving the Breakthrough Achievement Award for his 3-D masterpiece,Hugo and Meryl Streep who played the role of former British premier Margaret Thatcher in the movie The Iron Lady accepting the Best Grownup Love Story award.
Last November, the film’s producers launched an against-all-odds effort, trying to bring the movie to the attention of Oscar voters with little help from its distributor.
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