Disney has released the first Queen of Katwe trailer for director Mira Nair’s (Monsoon Wedding) adaptation of the Tim Crothers book of the same name. Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o stars in the inspirational true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda who, after being introduced to the game of chess, pursues a dream of becoming an international chess champion.
This is very much in the vein of Disney’s traditional inspirational sports movies like Million Dollar Arm, McFarland, USA, and Secretariat, but what sets it apart from those films is that not only is it telling a refreshingly non-American story, but the talent both behind and in front of the camera is stellar. Sure you can probably predict exactly where this thing’s going, but this looks like a delightful and inspiring watch nonetheless. Nair’s storytelling talents are solid, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga looks to absolutely hold her own opposite magnificent performers like Nyong’o and David Oyelowo. Moreover, after being hidden by CG in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book, it’s great to see Nyong’o back in front of the camera.
I really wouldn’t be surprised if this became something of a breakout hit later this year, and this trailer definitely puts this on my radar as something I’m looking forward to.
Watch the Queen of Katwe trailer below. Scripted by William Wheeler (The Hoax), Queen of Katwe opens in theaters on September 23rd.
Here’s the official synopsis for Queen of Katwe:
“Queen of Katwe” is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Directed by Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (“The Hoax”) based on the book by Tim Crothers, “Queen of Katwe” is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher (“The Darjeeling Limited”) and John Carls (“Where the Wild Things Are”) with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo (“Selma”), Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”) and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
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. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.