The Queen of Katwe is the story of Ugandan chess player Phiona Mutesi. Based on Tim Crothers’ book about Mutesi titled The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, the biographical film stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga as Mutesi, Lupita Nyong’o as her mother Harriet, and David Oyelowo as missionary Robert Katende. Mira Nair of Monsoon Wedding is directing, and it looks fantastic!
The film begins with Phiona at 10-years old with her family in Katwe in Kampala, Uganda where her mother takes care of her children by selling vegetables. Phiona meets Robert Katende, who teachers her chess and Phiona’s affinity for the game is immediately evident. Oyelowo’s Katende becomes a mentor figure for the chess player as they go to tournaments and competitions, but Harriet “is reluctant to provide any encouragement not wanting to see her daughter disappointed.”
A lot of the lines that Oyelowo delivers in the trailer, like “it teaches us to make a plan,” “You belong where you think you belong,” and “what happens is when you reset the pieces” along with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf quote at the beginning of the trailer, “The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them” show that the film is ultimately about dreaming big and persevering. It reminds me a lot of Nyong’o’s Oscar speech where she said “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid,” and I’m really eager to see her and Nalwanga (whom she calls “luminous“) on the screen as mother and daughter.
Queen of Katwe comes out September 23rd! What did you think about the trailer?
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