Relative newcomer Madina Nalwanga stands tall as the Queen of Katwe in today’s new featurette for Mira Nair’s awards-friendly drama.
The film chronicles the remarkable story of Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) who, at only tens years of age, displayed a knack for the age-old game, drawing support from her family and rural community. It’s a support that pushes Mutesi on to the world stage, capturing the imagination of chess aficionados across the globe, before eventually going on to become a Woman Candidate Master in light of her eye-catching performances at the World Chess Olympiads.
It’s a remarkable tale, and it is little wonder why Phiona Mutesi’s meteoric rise hasn’t been adapted to the big screen before. Nonetheless, Mira Nair is calling the shots from behind the lens, building on a streak that comprises both Monsoon Wedding and Reluctant Fundamentalist. Speaking of which, screenwriter William Wheeler is attached to Queen of Katwe, while the featurette above has David Oyelowo (Selma) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens alum Lupita Nyong’o recount their labor of love.
Mira Nair’s Oscar-tipped Queen of Katwe will bow in theaters on September 23 via limited release, before expanding nationwide the following week, September 30. Below, you can feast your eyes on the film’s beautiful first poster.
For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game.