No matter how cold, callous, and cynical the real world gets, the one consistent source of optimism the human race has come to rely on over the past several decades is the Disney sports movie. Whether your pastime of choice be baseball, hockey, horse-racing, or Olympic-grade bobsledding, you’re in for an uplifting tour de force so long as Disney is handling the reins. And for the lot of you indoorsy types who favored a rousing chess match over any activity involving a hurtling sphere, Queen of Katwe is the latest feel-good drama joining the Disney sports movie résumé.
Hankering for a bit of that follow-your-dreams spirit inherent to any of these films, our own Dan Casey caught up with Queen of Katwe stars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo during the Toronto International Film Festival. In discussing the story of Phiona Mutesi (acting newcomer Madina Nalwanga), the young chess prodigy from Uganda who ascended to the World Chess Olympiads at age 14, Nyong’o and Oyelowo tapped into the importance of encouraging the young people in our lives to follow their dreams.
Nyong’o plays the Phiona’s mother, a character who struggles to give into her daughter’s obvious inclination toward the world of chess, while Oyelowo portrays Robert Katende, who makes teaching chess to the impoverished children of Katwe his life’s work. Nyong’o tells Dan that she connected with the story a proud dreamer herself, as did Oyelowo as a loving father who wishes to foster confidence and ambition in his own daughter and sons. The stars also discussed working in the heart of Uganda, where a unique brand of real life can pierce through the glimmer of Hollywood filmmaking.
Are you going to check out Queen of Katwe next time you need to feel good about the world? Let us know!