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Lupita Nyong’o’s ‘Queen of Katwe’ to Make European Debut at London Film Festival

Mira Nair’s film stars Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga

Mira Nair’s “Queen of Katwe,” which stars David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga, will receive its European premiere Oct. 9 in the Gala section of the 60th BFI London Film Festival. Oyelowo, Nyong’o and Nalwanga will be on the red carpet with Nair.

Walt Disney Studios’ movie is the true story of a girl, Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga), selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda, whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess by Robert Katende (Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary. As a result of the support she receives from her mother Harriet (Nyong’o), family and community, Phiona is “instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion,” the festival said in a statement.

Oyelowo commented: “’Queen of Katwe’ beautifully illustrates a thing I know to be true but rarely see in films. Africa is teeming with amazing people who in spite of their, at times, difficult lives, manage to remain full of joy and hope. This is a story where the impossible is made possible through family, mentorship, encouragement, hard work, and faith, all things we can aspire to. It is a story that speaks to anyone and everyone.”

The pic was penned by William Wheeler, produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and John Carls, with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers.

The film forms part of the BFI’s U.K.-wide Black Star blockbuster season “celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors on film and TV,” which runs from Oct. 17 to the end of the year. The Black Star program will be unveiled Wednesday.

The BFI London Film Festival takes place Oct. 5-16. The full program will be announced on Sept. 1.

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