5 things you need to know about ‘Queen of Katwe’

From “Searching For Bobby Fischer” to “Pawn Sacrifice,” chess has proven to be a surprisingly rich subject for movies. By all accounts, “Queen of Katwe” continues this tradition, while appealing to those with no working knowledge of the game. 

This is the true story of Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a 10-year-old girl from rural Uganda, and her mother Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o). When former soccer star Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) starts teaching Phiona about the intricacies of chess, she becomes obsessed, setting her sights on international competition. Determined to inspire viewers of all ages, “Queen of Katwe” premieres at TIFF on Saturday Sept. 10th, just three weeks before it goes into wide release. If you’re anxious to learn more—about the film, if not chess—here are five things you need to know.

1. It was inspired by another movie

Director Mira Nair decided to make “Queen of Katwe” after completing “A Fork, A Spoon & A Knight,” a short documentary about Robert Katende.

2. Lupita Nyong’o returns 

While Lupita Nyong’o played roles in both “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “The Jungle Book,” “Queen of Katwe” features her first live action movie performance since her 2014 Oscar win for “12 Years a Slave.”

3. A new challenge

Playing Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” Nyong’o delivered one of the great debut performances of all time. But in spite of that triumph, she now says “Queen of Katwe” was the first time she “felt really awakened by a script and super challenged.” 

4. Nair and Nyong’o reunite

Just 10 years ago, Nyong’o served a very different function on Nair’s film “The Namesake.” While that film was shooting in India and New York, the future Oscar winner chipped in by working as an intern.

5. Even the script’s a tearjerker 

If all goes according to plan, “Queen of Katwe” should inspire some tearful reactions. For Nyong’o, all it took was a few pages of the script

“When I first read ‘Queen of Katwe,’ I was about 10 pages in when I broke down and cried because I had been so inspired.”
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