‘Queen of Katwe’ Trailer: Lupita Nyong’o Will Move You in This Inspiring Chess Drama
After winning an Oscar for her incredible breakthrough performance in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o has been awesomely unpredictable in her career choices. Instead of following up the acclaimed drama with more acclaimed dramas, Nyong’o starred in two films back-to-back where she portrayed animated characters. More than anything, it’s left us anxious to see her in another live-action film, which makes the first trailer for Queen of Katwe pretty exciting.
Following her animated roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book, Nyong’o returns to the big screen in Queen of Katwe, a new drama from Disney and director Mira Nair (Vanity Fair). Co-starring Selma’s David Oyelowo, the film tells the story of a single mother struggling to raise her 10-year-old daughter Phiona in Uganda. A chance meeting with a missionary introduces Phiona to the game of chess, and opens up a previously unimagined world of possibility.
While I’m thrilled to see Nyong’o in another live-action film, there isn’t a whole lot of her to see in this trailer. Still, the story is undeniably heartwarming, the cast is excellent, and it looks like the kind of movie that requires a minimum of two boxes of Kleenex.
Here’s the official (and very, very long) 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.
Queen of Katwe also stars newcomer Madina Nalwanga, and hits theaters on September 23.