Queen of Katwe is “a love song rooted in truth and struggle,” said Mira Nair, Director of Ugandan Disney film, Queen of Katwe, that premiered Saturday night at Century Cinemax. She introduced Madina Nalwanga as an actor with luminosity and charisma in her role as Phiona Mutesi.
Attended by Her Royal Highness Nabagereka Sylvia Naginda, Disney Executive Producer Tendo Katende, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Peter Anyang’ (Lupita Nyongo’s father), Jennifer Musisi and a host of local film makers and arts practitioners, the premiere gathered a prestigous and diverse audience.
“It is amazing that they have premiered it to such a large Ugandan audience,” said Rehema Nanfuka, an actor who cried throughout a good part of the movie.
Several thought the performance of both Uganda’s actors along side the Hollywood stars was impeccable. Esther Tebandeke an actress in the movie who plays the wife to Coach Katende said, “It is really an honour for the movie to come back home because this is our story.”
Mutesi’s mother said she would never have imagined that this would happen for her daughter. “She was always strong and even if I did not know anything about the game or support it at first, she still pursued her dream”. This was well reflected in the movie by Lupita (as Harriet) who confronts Oyelowo (as Katende) about “using” her children.
Oyelowo and Lupita “are the heart and soul of the film” said Mira Nair. This was agreeable because their parts in the film have given Queen of Katwe both continental and international influence. While both Lupita and Oyolewo attract Hollywood and the rest of the world, they draw in Kenya and Nigeria and South Africa where up to 50 per cent of the film was shot. “I found the story really inspiring with layered and complex characters, a story about a girl with big dreams…I wanted to be a part of it,” said Lupita.
The cast enjoyed a red carpet premiere done Hollywood style. Nalwanga who still maintains touch with her Uganda traditions knelt to greet Nabagereka. For each of the actors, there seems to be an optimism about what the future holds. The younger talent including Martin Kamanza who acts as Mutesi’ cheerful brother, Brian, were excited about watching themselves on large screen.
Mutesi confessed that she still dreams of being a grand master despite her wide opportunities to study at University in the United States and pursue a course in Law.