So often we forget that Disney is so much more than animation, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, live-action adaptations of animated classics, they also have other inspirational stories to tell. And in the past six months, we have seen Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o star in two of the studio’s latest hit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book. However, both films hid her face, the former being her first doing motion capture work and the latter saw her in her first major voice over role.
Now you will actually be able to get to see her in Disney’s upcoming uplifting drama, Queen of Katwe, where the actress plays the mother of a chess prodigy. You can check out the full trailer below.
Directed by Mira Nair, the film is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy. Nyong’o will play the mother of Phiona (who will be played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga). David Oyelowo plays Robert Katende, the young teacher who helps hone Phiona’s talents that will eventually take her to the World Chess Olympiads.
While this isn’t exactly the blockbuster fare Disney is known for, the studio has had a history of releasing these films, some of which are very underrated and can go under the radar, like last year’s MacFarland, USA. Still that doesn’t take away from how uplifting the film will make audiences feel after watching it. Nyong’o and Oyelowo maybe the headlining names, but Nalwanga appears to be the true gem of this film.
Nair may not be the most recognizable director, however, the Indian-born filmmaker was behind such films like New York, I Love You starring Andy Garcia, Natalie Portman, Irrfan Khan, and more, as well as The Namesake starring Kal Penn.
Disney will release Queen of Katwe in theaters on September 23, 2016.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
â€œQueen of Katweâ€ 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 (â€œMonsoon Weddingâ€) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (â€œThe Hoaxâ€) based on the book by Tim Crothers, â€œQueen of Katweâ€ is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher (â€œThe Darjeeling Limitedâ€) and John Carls (â€œWhere the Wild Things Areâ€) with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden GlobeÂ® nominee David Oyelowo (â€œSelmaâ€), OscarÂ® winner and Tony AwardÂ® nominee Lupita Nyongâ€™o (â€œ12 Years a Slaveâ€) 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 (Nyongâ€™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 Phionaâ€™s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit sheâ€™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.