TIFF 2016 Preview: Queen of Katwe

1More Film Blog is excited to be covering the Toronto International Film Festival again this year. 2016 will be my tenth visit to TIFF, and I’m counting down the days by featuring some films playing at this year’s festival.

Disney is presenting Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe in the Gala Presentations program. David Oyelowo (Selma) plays missionary Robert Katende and Lupita Nyong’o costars as Phiona Mutesi.

Family films often get lost in the shuffle at TIFF. The festival usually features over 300 films, and its early September date makes it an unofficial kickoff for awards season as studios position films for Oscar buzz. In addition, films with overt faith elements are more often pitched to niche audiences.

I will admit that I was skeptical when I heard the premise for the film: missionary helps Ugandan woman become a chess prodigy. But Nair brings a strong visual sensibility to her films, and one can hardly ask for a better cast in any movie, faith-themed or not.

The following teaser trailer pushed me off the fence. This definitely looks like a major studio production with Christian themes as opposed to a Christian-niche movie. Check out the featurette and see if you don’t agree.

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