Indian-origin director Mira Nair’s latest offering, “The Queen Of Katwe”, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.
The film will be a gala presentation at the 41st edition of the premier movie event in North America. Nair’s previous feature, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”, also first showed at TIFF in 2012.
Described as a “vibrant true story”, the film tracks the unlikely path taken by 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi from the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, to becoming a chess champion.
TIFF’s artistic director Cameron Bailey told Hindustan Times about the selection: “It’s a really inspirational story and I think Mira was thrilled to direct a film in her native Uganda, as well.”
Also returning to the festival is actor Dev Patel, who first came to attention when the film in which he debuted, the multi-Oscar winning “Slumdog Millionaire”, played at TIFF in 2008. Patel also starred in “The Man Who Knew Infinity”, a biopic about maths genius Srinivasan Ramanujan, which featured in TIFF last year.
He returns in another role based on a “true story” in “Lion”, a film about Saroo Brierley, who was adopted by an Australian couple after being separated from his Indian parents when just five years old, and used Google Earth a quarter century later to locate his family back in India.
“Based on a true story” appears to be the theme for films with an Indian connection at this year’s TIFF.
Actor Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial venture, “A Death In The Gunj”, too is from that genre, as it “follows a shy young Indian student who quietly and fatefully unravels during a family road trip to McCluskiegunj”.
Bailey said of the film: “It’s a beautiful story set in West Bengal, very powerful, very well written, highly textured drama.”
New York-based Indian-American director Vikram Gandhi brings his feature “Barry” to TIFF. Set in 1981, it follows a young Barack Obama during a “crucial year” in the life of the future American president.
Highlights of this year’s festival also include Oliver Stone’s “Snowden”, described as a “politically charged, pulse-pounding thriller that reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarising figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world — considered a hero by some, and a traitor by others”.
The 10-day festival will open on September 8 with American director Antoine Fuqua’s much-anticipated remake of the Western “The Magnificent Seven”.