Based on a remarkable true story, “Queen of Katwe” is directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler. It’s one of those rare true stories that bring hope to many. In the film, we meet Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) who spends her days on the streets of Katwe, Uganda with her family selling maize and other vegetables. Katwe is located in the poorest slums of Kampala and her family has barely enough to survive, let alone have the privilege of going to school.
One day she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) who offers to teach her chess. Things are not easy for Phiona. She battles bullying and her mother Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o) who thinks that chess is just a silly game. Throughout the film Phiona proves herself over and over. Everything that gets thrown at her she learns from. Soon a small girl from the slums gives hope to not only those she knows but an entire nation as well.
Queen of Katwe is a family friendly film that will leave you walking out of the theatre with hope and a great conversation starter for the kids as well.
3 Fun Casting Facts
*The actress broke down and cried after reading just 10 pages of the script. “It was the first time in a while that I’d been so enlivened, inspired and challenged by a role I was considering,” Nyong’oremembers. “I immediately sent an email to my representatives saying, ‘I must do this film.’”
*The role of Phiona Mutesi is a formidable one. The character appears in almost every scene and undergoes a transformation from a child on the streets to a successful chess champion in under four years. The actress cast would have to hold her own alongside such acting heavy weights as Nyong’o and Oyelowo. The casting process took over a year, during which time the filmmakers looked at close to 700 girls from the UK, South Africa, East Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda. Ironically, the production found their Phiona just 15-minutes down the road in Kibuli, an area not far from Katwe, weeks before filming was scheduled to begin.
*David Oyelowo was Mira Nair’s first and only choice for the role of Robert Katende.
Film Hits Theatres September 30!
***Disclosure: I attended the #QueenOfKatwe + #ABCTVEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***