For most residents of the Katwe slums in Kampala, Uganda, it’s beyond their wildest imaginations that a multimillion dollar, top American film company like Walt Disney Pictures would be interested in telling the story of one of their own – a teenage girl who defied all odds to become the first female chess champion in the country.
The film “Queen of Katwe” is based on a real-life story of a young Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi, who became a national chess champion before she even celebrated her 20th birthday.
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It tells a story of defiance, determination, and a desire to be better regardless of how dire the circumstances are.
The film, which is expected to debut in the US on September 23, features a young Ugandan actress, Madina Nalwanga, as Phiona; Hollywood star Lupita Nyong’o as. Phiona’s mother, and Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo as Phiona’s chess trainee.
The screenplay by William Wheeler folliws ten-year-old Phiona as she meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children how to play chess.
Katende introduces Phiona to the game and immediately she is impressed by the intelligence and wit displayed by chess players.
Her natural aptitude for the game and a fighting spirit that she inherited from her hardworking mother, Harriet, sway Katende to mentor her.
With the support she gets from her family and friends, Phiona gains confidence and willpower to chase her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
Though she still continues with her education, Phiona shows extraordinary potential in chess, excelling in numerous local tournaments. This persuades hrr mother Harriet to join Katende to help Phiona achieve her desires to escape a life of poverty and save her family.
The film was directed by Mira Nair and produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and John Carls, with Will Weiske and Troy Buder as the executive producers.