National Geographic Entertainment (NGE) has acquired US theatrical rights to Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader following its recent world premiere in Toronto.

The film stars Oliver Musila Litondo and Naomie Harris in the story of an 84-year-old Kenyan man with a secret who returns to school to learn to read. Ann Peacock wrote the screenplay.

David M Thompson, Sam Feuer and Richard Harding produced, with Joe Oppenheimer, Anant Singh, Norman Merry and Helena Spring on board as executive producers.

Distant Horizon’s Singh negotiated the sale with National Geographic. Penny Wolf at Goldcrest International is handling international sales.

NGE’s recent acquisitions include Restrepo, The Wildest Dream and the upcoming Desert Flower, FlyingMonsters 3D and Blue Man Group: Mind Blast.

BBC Films and UK Film Council produced The First Grader in association with Videovision Entertainment, Lip Sync, ARTE France and Sixth Sense/Origin Pictures.

“When I saw The First Grader, I knew immediately that National Geographic should acquire it,” National Geographic Films president Daniel Battsek said. “It’s not only about historic political events, but it tells a personal story with great warmth and humour. The First Grader made Telluride and Toronto audiences laugh and cry, but it also made them think about the power of learning.”