Thank you to Disney for sponsoring my attendance at #TheBFGEvent, which included a screening of Queen of Katwe.
If you’re anything like me, when a “based on a true story” movie comes out, you become obsessed with separating fact from fiction. Confession: I was actually Googling the characters from Queen of Katwe in the van after we left the screening.
One of the things I loved about the movie is that the real-life inspirations for the film were there on set, every day, giving everything an added level of authenticity. I can’t wait for you to see it for yourself when Queen of Katwe opens in theaters on September 30, 2016.
David Oyelowo as Robert Katende and Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi in Disney’s Queen of Katwe.
Robert Katende was a recent college graduate and soccer coach for Sports Outreach Ministry who ran a chess program for impoverished children in the slums of Kampala when he first met Phiona Mutesi. As Phiona’s coach, mentor and father figure, Katende was instrumental in helping her pursue her dreams and become the champion she was destined to be. Today he is married with three children and houses several of his chess students while simultaneously serving as the director of Sports Outreach in Kampala and running 300 chess programs throughout Uganda.
Madina Nalwanga (right, orange jacket) as Phiona Mutesi
Phiona Mutesi (right, green shirt), Robert Katende (back row center)
David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga in the film.
Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi at Robert’s chess program.
Disney’s Queen of Katwe is based on the vibrant true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the streets of Kampala, Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess by soccer coach and former missionary Robert Katende, 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 from a screenplay by William Wheeler, Queen of Katwe is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, p.g.a., and John Carls, p.g.a., with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar® winner and Tony® nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
Phiona’s story is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit, and it all began when she came across Robert’s chess program in a makeshift Agape Church in Katwe. Two years later she became Uganda’s junior chess champion and eventually, the national champion. Then in 2012 at the age of 16 at her second Olympiad, she became a Woman Candidate Master, the first step towards Grand Master. Earlier this year Phiona graduated from St. Mbuga Vocational Secondary School. She is now applying to college and hopes to become a doctor or lawyer.