The entire world will soon know the story of Ugandan chess phenom Phiona Mutesi—a story well-known across sub-Saharan Africa—when Walt Disney Pictures and ESPN Films releases a movie about the popular chess master next week.
“Queen of Katwe” captures Mutesi’s rise from the slums of Katwe to the international chess competitions including the World Chess Olympiads. Mutesi and Ivy Amoko were the first women from Uganda to become titled chess players. Mutesi is the first Woman Candidate Master in Uganda’s history.
Trained in a program operated by the Sports Outreach Institute, Mutesi was three-time junior girls champion in Uganda. In 2013, she received a $25,000 grant for promoting chess and education among girls in her native country. In one two-day clinic, more than 400 girls showed up to take advantage of Mutesi’s wisdom and strategies.
The movie is based on “The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster,” a best-selling book by Tim Crothers, published in 2012 by Scribner. Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o will portray Mutesi.
The movie also stars award-winning actor David Oyelowo as Robert Katende, the Kampala-born engineer who introduced Mutesi to chess as a means of both escaping the oppression of the slums and developing critical thinking skills.