Phiona Mutesi lived in an impoverished community in an area of the Ugandan city of Kampala called Katwe. Her father died of AIDS, and her mother, Harriet, made a living by selling food on the street.
But Phiona’s world changed forever when she met missionary Robert Katende. Although unable to read or write, Phiona excelled at the chess program run by Katende.
She went on to become an international chess champion. A book about her life was written by Tim Crothers and published in 2012.
Disney bought the rights to the book – entitled The Queen of Katwe – and now a movie of the same name is about to hit our screens.
Entertainment Weekly chatted to the movie’s director, Mira Nair, who said she was “immediately captivated” by Phiona’s story.
“I love true stories. I love stories of young girls. It proves genius is everywhere,” she said.
EW also got an exclusive clip from the movie showing Phiona (played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga) discovering her abilities for the first time.
The filmmakers have Lupita Nyong’o on hand as Phiona’s mother, and Selma star David Oyelowo as Phiona’s mentor Katende.
“To make a big Hollywood movie, one needs movie stars,” said Nair.
Lupita won an Oscar in 2014 for her supporting turn in 12 Years a Slave, yet hasn’t appeared on the big screen since (not counting her impeccable voice work in The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book).
The story is Phiona’s, but Katwe will be a rare chance to see the luminous Lupita in movie theaters.
The film will also feature a new song by Alicia Keys, “Back to Life”.
Queen of Katwe will have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival before it opens nationwide on September 30th.
The European premiere will follow at the BFI London Film Festival next month. Check out the trailer below!
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