Director Mira Nair introduces the Queen of Katwe in today’s trailer for Disney’s upcoming biopic.
Charting the remarkable journey Phiona Mutesi – played here in eye-catching fashion by newcomer Madina Nalwanga – Nair’s latest creative venture recounts Mutesi’s transformation from humble Ugandan chess prodigy to a bona fide master of the age-old sport, following her triumph at the World Chess Olympiads.
Chess is merely the basis for Phiona’s story, though, who hails from the impoverished slum of Katwe. Struggling to make ends meet is Lupita Nyong’o as Phiona’s mother, who is, like many residents of the Ugandan village, overworked and underpaid as a local farmer. However, one chance meeting with a soccer player turned missionary (David Oyelowo) changes all of that, as he introduces our wide-eyed protagonist to the strategy game in all of its intricate, thought-provoking glory. Ntare Mwine and Maurice Kirya also star.
Complete with all the necessary ingredients to become a strong contender during Oscar season – the real-life inspiration, the against-all-odds arc, the star power of Oyelowo and Nyong’o – Queen of Katwe graces theaters on September 23.
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.