It has been nine years since Forest Whitaker and the rest of the Last King of Scotland crew came to film in Uganda.
Back then, the likes of Ndere Troupe’s Stephen Rwangyezi and Afri-Talent’s Abby Mukibi made it onto the revered cast. The Oscar award-winning movie about Idi Amin also led to the discovery of new talent in Cleopatra Koheirwe, then a dancer with the Obsessions.
It is 2014 now, and another Hollywood blockbuster is upon us Queen of Katwe is based on a book by Tim Crothers, inspired by the life of Phiona Mutesi, the young chess phenomenon from the Katwe slums.
But this is not your ordinary Hollywood biopic being shot in Uganda it is directed by Mira Nair, the lady behind Maisha Film Lab and well-known for directing the Denzel Washington-starring Mississippi Masala, Karma Sutra, Vanity Fair, Accidental Fundamentalist and the well-received Monsoon Wedding, among others.
And that is not all the juice Mutesi will be portrayed by none other than current Oscar queen and recently-voted most beautiful woman in the world by people magazine, the 32-year-old Kenyan, Lupita Nyong’o. This makes it one of those opportunities that the acting fraternity craves badly. The casting crew held an open casting at the National theatre last Saturday and the number of people that turned up must have overwhelmed them.
Many were notables guys we have seen in Ugandan films such as Pryce Joel Okuyo, Cherrie Allen, Otako Mpaata and Edwin Mukalazi, among others. Then there were those from the Ebonies, Bakayimbira Dramactors and Afri-Talent.
It was in fact intimidating especially for the first-timers that came to audition for the love of it.
“I can’t believe almost everyone I watch on TV wants the same role as me,” said one of the girls while in the auditions line.
Production is expected to begin next year and the movie, at least according to some of the sources, will be entirely shot in Uganda.
While Lupita has acted at the National theatre before and gone fairly incognito, she returns to Kampala for at least three months as the huge star this time, following her 12 Years a Slave success. She once told the world that no matter where you are or come from, your dreams are valid. Maybe her good luck will rub off onto another of our own, with her latest project.
Source : The Observer