A young girl named Phiona and her family lives in Kampala, Uganda in the slums of Katwe. A missionary by the name of Robert Katende establishes a missionary program in the slum, where he coaches children to play soccer and chess. Curious, Phiona attends the program and learns how to play chess. Enthralled by the game, Phiona eventually becomes the highest-ranking player in the program. As Phiona's abilities are taken notice by her community, she joins several chess competitions in hopes of escaping the poverty in Katwe and the possibility of a brighter future for her and her family.Read more
Madina Nalwaga, who plays Ugandan Chess Champion Phiona Mutesi in the film, is not trained child actor. She was discovered as part of a community dance troupe performing for tourists in a city hotel not far from Katwe. The film's director, Mira Nair also lived in the Ugandan Indian diaspora of Kampala for over 25 years where she was researching for her 1991 romance novel Mississippi Masala.
Queen of Katwe (2016) is an American biographical drama film directed by Mira Nair. The film is based on the life of Ugandan Chess Champion, Phiona Mutesi, and the Tim Crothers' book 'The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.' It stars, among others, Madina Nalwaga as Phiona, Lupita Nyong'o as Nakku Harriet and David Oyelowo as Robert Katende. It won several awards including Most Promising Actor and Best Costume Design from the Africa Movie Academy Awards and Best Family Film from the Women Film Critics Circle.