Walt Disney Studios is partnering with 15-time GRAMMY® Award-winning recording artist Alicia Keys (“Girl on Fire,” “No One”) on the studio’s upcoming film release “Queen of Katwe,” which opens in limited release September 23 and expands wide September 30, 2016. The multi-talented singer/songwriter/producer’s new original song, “Back to Life,” appears in the film and on the motion picture soundtrack from Walt Disney Records, which also features the buoyant score from Golden Globe® nominee Alex Heffes (“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” “The Last King of Scotland”). “Back to Life” was written by Alicia Keys, Carlo Montagnese and Billy Walsh and produced by Illangelo and Keys.
‘Queen of Katwe’ moved me in every way,” says Alicia Keys. “The film beautifully depicts Uganda with such honest attention to detail—the colors, the sounds, the people—all vividly brought to life. But most soulfully, it’s the story of this fearless, brilliant girl Phiona who embodies the message that the rise to success first begins with opportunity, and the belief you have in yourself to pursue something bigger. The song ‘Back To Life’ that I wrote for this film alongside collaborators Illangelo and Billy Walsh, is about pushing past that little voice of doubt in our heads so we can instead, electrify the world. When we allow women to find and express their power and potential, the world changes for the better. I encourage people to see this film, be moved by Phiona’s story and then go back into their own communities and encourage a girl who will rise like a flower that breaks through the concrete to see the sun!”
The film’s Academy Award®-nominated director Mira Nair (“Salaam Bombay!,” “Mississippi Masala”) says, “I have carried a torch for Alicia Key’s voice and passionate engagement with the world for years, so it was exciting to have her artistry join ‘Queen of Katwe,’ which celebrates the idea that genius is everywhere!”
“Queen of Katwe,” which was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10, is directed by Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler and stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar® winner and Tony® nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. The film is based on the vibrant true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda who is introduced to the game of chess by Robert Katende, a former missionary and soccer coach, and goes on to become an international chess champion.
About Alicia Keys:
Alicia Keys is a 15-time GRAMMY® Award-winning singer/songwriter/producer, an accomplished actress, a New York Times best-selling author, an entrepreneur and a powerful force in the world of activism. Earlier this year Keys released her critically-acclaimed single “In Common.” The song is from Keys’ forthcoming highly-anticipated sixth studio album, due out later this year on RCA Records. Keys will join the judges panel on NBC’s “The Voice” for its 11th season, which premieres on September 19, 2016, alongside Miley Cyrus, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. In September 2014, Keys launched We Are Here, a movement that empowers the global community around a host of issues and initiatives building a better world where all people are heard, respected, equal, and treated with dignity. Keys also co-founded Keep a Child Alive (KCA) and serves as Global Ambassador for the organization.
About The Film:
For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), is fiercely determined to take care of her family and works tirelessly selling vegetables in the market to make sure her children are fed and have a roof over their heads. When Phiona meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who teaches local children chess, she is captivated. Chess requires a good deal of concentration, strategic thinking and risk taking, all skills which are applicable in everyday life, and Katende hopes to empower youth with the game. Phiona is impressed by the intelligence and wit the game requires and immediately shows potential. Recognizing Phiona’s natural aptitude for chess and the fighting spirit she’s inherited from her mother, Katende begins to mentor her, but Harriet is reluctant to provide any encouragement, not wanting to see her daughter disappointed. As Phiona begins to succeed in local chess competitions, Katende teaches her to read and write in order to pursue schooling. She quickly advances through the ranks in tournaments, but breaks away from her family to focus on her own life. Her mother eventually realizes that Phiona has a chance to excel and teams up with Katende to help her fulfill her extraordinary potential, escape a life of poverty and save her family.
About Walt Disney Studios:
For over 90 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under the following banners: Disney, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios; Disneynature; Marvel Studios; Lucasfilm; and Touchstone Pictures, the banner under which live-action films from DreamWorks Studios are distributed. The Disney Music Group encompasses the Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records labels, as well as Disney Music Publishing. The Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Disney on Broadway, Disney On Ice and Disney Live!