Ugandans have for over a year been obsessed Kenyan born actress Lupita Nyong’o and her achievements and with a revelation from revered local director Mira Nair, that one of the stars of McQueen’s Oscar-winning “12 Years a Slave” (you’ve heard of her, right?) – will star in Nair’s next film, which will be based on the book “Queen of Katwe,” by Tim Crothers is a dream come true for most.
She will soon be in Kampala for some good time for shooting of the epic film.
Nair’s interest in the book’s adaptation was first reported in this newspaper a year ago, when, in an interview with Newsweek Pakistan, she revealed that she was working on a film on Ugandan chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi.
Nair shared that the project was set up at Disney, although she didn’t give any further information on it – like how far along in the production process she was, or when the film can be expected.
Also known as “The Queen of Katwe,” which is what the film is currently titled, Mutesi’s story was the inspiration for a book by Tim Crothers, titled, The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. She’s also been the subject of short documentaries and news reports, capturing her inspiring story. I embedded one of them at the bottom of this post.
In case you’re wondering about Mira Nair’s Uganda connection, she founded Maisha Film Labs – a Uganda-based film training initiative (not-so unlike the Sundance Institute’s filmmaker labs, or the IFP’s filmmaker labs).
The goal of the Maisha Film Labs is to give aspiring filmmakers in Uganda the tools & knowledge to tell their own stories through film, which would then help foster a self-sustaining film industry in Uganda and vicinity, that will support and represent the interests of local audiences.
Mira Nair’s award-winning 1991 film, “Mississipi Masala” (which starred Denzel Washington, by the way, and probably my favorite of all her films), was shot, on location, in Kampala, Uganda. And, it’s also in Uganda, in 1988, where she met her husband, scholar, Mahmood Mamdani, while she was doing research for the film.