‘Queen of Katwe’ Ugandan premiere set for October 1


Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o (R) seen here in one of the film’s scenes with newcomer Madina Nalwanga who plays the titular character

Queen of Katwe, the upcoming Hollywood biographical film about Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi, will hold its local premiere early next month.

The hotly-billed sports drama starring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o and Selma leading man David Oyelewo is set to screen at Century Cinemax in Kampala on October 1.

“We are currently in the process of getting clearance from the Media Council of Uganda ahead of the film’s October 1 premiere,” Century Cinemax Manager Satish Guna told this blog in an exclusive interview today.

Guna added that the exclusive red carpet event, which also marks the Disney-produced picture’s African premiere, will be graced by the entire cast and crew and other big names from from the world of cinema.

The Mira Nair-directed biopic meanwhile is set to have its world premiere a few days from now at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Canada after which it will have a limited release across North America on September 23.

Its general worldwide theatrical release is slated for September 30 with the $15m (about Shs 50.7bn) budget feature expected to start showing in African cinemas on October 7.

Shot on location in Kampala early last year, Queen of Katwe chronicles the story of 20-year-old Mutesi from a homeless girl growing up in the rough city slum to a world chess champion.

The film is an adaptation of American journalist Tim Crothers’ best-selling book, The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster, which itself was first published as a magazine article in ESPN .

The two-hour film casts newcomer actress Madina Nalwanga as Mutesi while Nyong’o and Oyelewo play her mother Harriet and Coach Katende, respectively.

Hollywood-based Ugandan actor Ntare Mwine, singer Maurice Kirya and Ugandan actress Esther Tebandeke also feature in supporting roles.

Director Mira Nair first teased the film at the AmakulaInternational Film Festival in Kampala this March when she showed a 20-minute clip from the movie to excited fans during her masterclass.

The film’s two-and-half minute official trailer would later go viral almost as soon as it was released in May this year. The rather emotional clip shows snippets of Mutesi’s struggle with poverty and rejection, her first contact with chess, as well as her first time on a plane.

With so much Oscar buzz already surrounding the film, Ugandans will be hoping that the biggest high-profile film out of the Pearl of Africa since The Last King of Scotland will indeed live up to its billing.

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