This marks the second high-profile feature film that the 60th BFI London Film Festival has nabbed to headline this year’s event. A couple of weeks ago, the festival announced that Amma Asante’s “A United Kingdom” (which stars David Oyelowo and Rosemund Pike) will be the opening night film.
Today, the festival has announced that another film co-starring Oyelowo, Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” which also co-stars Lupita Nyong’o, will receive its European Premiere at the festival, on Sunday October 9, screening in the Festival’s prestigious headline gala section.
Joining Oyelowo and Nyong’o in the Disney movie is newcomer Madina Nalwanga, who will attend the festival/European premiere with director Mira Nair.
“Queen of Katwe” is the vibrant true story of a young girl, Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga), in rural Uganda, whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess by Robert Katende (Oyelowo) a soccer player turned missionary. As a result of the support she receives from her mother Harriet (Nyong’o), family and community, Phiona is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
Director Mira Nair says: “It makes me very proud that the European premiere of ‘Queen of Katwe,’ a film so close to my heart, and set in my hometown of Kampala, will take place at the BFI London Film Festival. I have so many fond memories of London. We are proud to be back.”
David Oyelowo adds: “’Queen of Katwe’ beautifully illustrates a thing I know to be true but rarely see in films. Africa is teeming with amazing people who in spite of their, at times, difficult lives, manage to remain full of joy and hope. This is a story where the impossible is made possible through family, mentorship, encouragement, hard work, and faith, all things we can aspire to. It is a story that speaks to anyone and everyone, and I am so proud to have it screen in my hometown as part of the BFI London Film Festival.”
Clare Stewart, BFI London Film Festival Director adds: “’Queen of Katwe’ is an inspirational story, directed with vision and heart by Mira Nair and featuring performances of great depth and integrity from David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. We are proud to be announcing its European premiere to coincide with the launch of the BFI’s Black Star season.”
Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler, “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.
It is the 7th film directed by Mira Nair to be presented at the Festival, following “Salaam Bombay!” (1988), “Mississippi Masala” (1991), “Monsoon Wedding” (2001), “Vanity Fair” (2004), “Namesake” (2006) and “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (2012).
The BFI’s UK-wide Black Star blockbuster season celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors on film and TV, which runs from 17 October to the end of the year, will be unveiled tonight.
The 60th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express, takes place from Wednesday 5 October-Sunday 16 October 2016. The full Festival program will be announced on Thursday 1 September 2016.
A new featurette for “Katwe” has been released: