Entertainment & Arts

Queen of Katwe stars praise film's 'uplifting' view of Africa

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Media captionLupita Nyong'o talks about her role in the Queen of Katwe

The stars of new Disney film Queen of Katwe have praised the "uplifting" view of Africa it portrays on screen.

"It's very refreshing - not just for myself but indisputably for the audience," David Oyelowo told the BBC.

The British actor was speaking on Monday after the film's BFI London Film Festival premiere.

Directed by Mira Nair, the Disney film tells the true story of a young Ugandan chess champion.

"When we've seen African stories in the past they've been big, political subject matter - whether it's genocide, dictators, disease, child soldiers," Oyelowo said.

"But this [film] - about a 10-year-old girl from a slum who goes onto become a chess champion, someone who triumphs in the acquisition of her dream - is something that anyone can relate to."

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Image caption Lupita Nyong'o plays the mother of a chess prodigy in Uganda

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong'o plays the mother of Phiona Mutesi (newcomer Madina Malwanga), a girl living in an impoverished district of the Ugandan capital Kampala who discovers a chess club run by a missionary (Oyelowo).

Nyong'o told the BBC it was vital that the film showed an honest portrayal of the continent.

"The fact that we have this uplifting story with the Africans front and centre of their own narrative - Africans saving themselves from their own situation - is really powerful for Africans and everyone else who will get to watch this film," she said.

'Very positive'

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Image caption Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo at the Queen Of Katwe premiere in London

Last week, Oyelowo made headlines with a speech in which he said he moved to the US because of the lack of opportunity for black actors in the UK.

Speaking at the BFI London Film Festival's Black Star Symposium, the Selma star issued a plea for a more diverse UK film industry.

Asked on Monday how confident he was that it would be achieved, Oyelowo said: "I don't know - we've all been talking about it for long enough... to be sceptical about how soon things are going to change.

"But this film is indicative of something very positive: the fact that Disney made this movie, if you look at the films programmed at the LFF this year and the work that companies like Pathe and Film4 are putting out.

"There are very commendable strides being taken - hopefully those examples will permeate."

Queen of Katwe opens in UK cinemas on 21 October.


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