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Fans petition for Bob Uecker to call the World Series

Cleveland fans have already been denied "Wild Thing" making an appearance, so they've now turned to another fictional "Major League" character to improve their World Series mojo.

More than 12,000 fans have signed a petition to replace Fox's Joe Buck with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker.

>> Read more trending stories 

Fans must be expecting Uecker's alter-ego, Harry Doyle - the lovable Indians broadcaster from the 1989 movie in which a laughable Cleveland team beats the odds to make the playoffs.

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Fans must've missed the sequel in which it is revealed the Indians didn't make the World Series, losing to the White Sox in the ALCS.

But that was Hollywood and this is reality.

Charlie Sheen, who portrayed pticher Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the film, was denied his request to throw a ceremonial first pitch by Major League Baseball. 

Uecker was a catcher with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the 1960s. He has served as the Milwaukee Brewers' announcer for more than four decades. His signature home run call is "Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!" 

The Indians have been to the World Series twice since 1995, losing both times. The Chicago Cubs have reached their first World Series in 71 years. They have not won one since 1908.


Dreams do come true: Ruby slippers project passes $300K goal

Smithsonian officials are "over the rainbow" after reaching their fundraising goal to help preserve the ruby slippers from "The Wizard Oz."

The Smithsonian launched a Kickstarter campaign last week to raise $300,000 to help preserve the slippers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas at the end of the movie.

Officials say they reached their goal late Sunday night thanks to more than 5,300 supporters in 41 countries across six continents. They say they'll announce a stretch goal Monday involving a character who traveled down the yellow brick road with Dorothy.

The slippers have been one of the most beloved items at the National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian wants to put the money toward a technologically advanced display case that will preserve them for future generations.

Ship that helped saved 7 in 'The Perfect Storm' to be sunk

A ship that once towed warships to safety during World War II and battled 40-foot waves to help rescue seven people in what was portrayed in the book and film "The Perfect Storm" is poised to be sunk off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts.

Officials tell The Record newspaper ( ) the Coast Guard vessel Tamaroa will help grow a reef near Cape May Point by drawing large game fish and boosting recreational fishing.

The sinking is planned around Oct. 30, the 25th anniversary of the 1991 storm in which the Tamaroa helped rescue the crew of a sailboat and a downed Air National Guard helicopter near Massachusetts.

Efforts to convert the ship into a museum and memorial ended in 2012 after its hull sprung a leak.


Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.),

Japan animation auteur Hosoda sees beasts in child's growth

Time warps, half-bestial children and parallel worlds are, for Mamoru Hosoda, a natural way to pursue the universal coming-of-age story that has driven all his movies.

"A child growing up is fascinating and stunning, a true wonder of the world," the burly but friendly Japanese animation director said recently in an interview at his suburban Tokyo Chizu Studio.

"There is struggle in growth and change, between that wolf, that blood, that drive within you and order or reason needed to live as a human being. I want to keep looking at this child, standing alone in the middle of all that."

A retrospective of Hosoda's works, starting from his early shorts, is highlighted at this year's Tokyo International Film Festival, which opens Tuesday.

People think his films are about family, which they are, but it's the child in the middle of that framework that fascinates him the most, Hosoda says.

His latest, the 2015 "The Boy and the Beast," focuses on a boy's evolving relationship with a disheveled but well-meaning bear-father, complete with video-game-like martial-arts fight scenes.

All the films feature the trademark hand-drawn style of the art-school-trained Hosoda, especially stunning in the depiction of rural landscapes below cloud-filled skies that evokes luscious paintings.

A decade into his feature-animation career, Hosoda continues to defy the time and cost-saving technological advantages of computer graphics, now the standard at studios like Pixar and Disney.

"We are really barely hanging on," he said, stressing that given the time and costs required for drawing, rather than switching completely to computer graphics, his work has been a real struggle.

Sometimes, he is frustrated, even insulted, when he gets asked why he simply doesn't change with the times and use computer graphics.

Hosoda's first feature, "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time," portrayed a schoolgirl who finds herself suddenly able to go back and forth in time, a take on that common wish of having done or said something differently. The scenes in which she gets thrust through time are dazzling.

Hosoda, honored internationally, including at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, as well as at home, winning the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, is also recognized for his collaboration on animation with acclaimed visual artist Takashi Murakami, who designed manga-like motifs for Louis Vuitton luxury bags.

But Hosoda isn't at all happy about the title he has earned of "the next Miyazaki," referring to the legacy of Oscar-winning Hayao Miyazaki, of Ghibli Studios' "Spirited Away" and "Ponyo."

"There are as many angles are there are directors, and we must enjoy that diversity," said Hosoda, irritation clear in his voice.

Hosoda, who sees Disney's 1991 "The Beauty and the Beast" as the film that influenced him the most, stressed it's important for artists like him to be aware of their position in international filmmaking, while staying true to the storytelling of Japanese settings, situations and characters that are close to his every day.

Like the characters in his film, Hosoda as creator is also being asked that same question of identity, he added.

"It may feel like a tiny corner of the world, but it is about the eternal," he said, stressing that the answer is not about the gimmick of localization. "To face up to this with sincerity is what allows a work to reach people on the other side of the planet."

He also believes animation has great potential to do what would be hard to do on film, for instance, following a character over decades, or putting children through hardships.

And he thinks animation is underrated, pigeon-holed as children's entertainment, when it's a fabulous tool for filmmaking with a lot of unexplored territory.

Hosoda stressed his next film, set to be released in 2018, is top secret, but was so excited he couldn't hold himself back from talking about it.

It's the logical theme to follow, he said, after fatherhood in "The Boy and the Beast," and motherhood in "Wolf Children," a touching saga of a woman who falls in love with a wolf and raises two children on her own, a tale inspired by his own mother and his wife.

When this reporter guessed, "Siblings?" he acknowledged with a big laugh: That was the right answer.


Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at

Her work can be found at

Tyler Perry's 'Madea' tops Cruise's 'Jack Reacher' sequel

Tyler Perry bested Tom Cruise at the box office this weekend.

Perry's "Boo! A Madea Halloween" opened in the top spot with an estimated $27.6 million, edging Cruise's "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" into second place, according to studio estimates Sunday.

It's the third best opening for a "Madea" movie, behind "Madea Goes to Jail" and "Madea's Family Reunion" and a sign of the character's longstanding appeal to audiences.

To market the film, which reportedly cost $20 million to produce, Lionsgate leveraged the social media audiences of Perry and his cast as well as promotional videos like one featuring Jimmy Fallon as Trump alongside Madea that ended up going viral.

"Tyler Perry is a movie star. Tyler Perry is a mogul. The Madea character has provided box office dividends for years. It's a perfect combination, Madea and Halloween right before Halloween," said comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

That timing, along with the promising A CinemaScore, should bode well for the film's second weekend over Halloween.

"A Madea Halloween" proved to be the strongest of the slew of sequels this weekend, topping even the star power of Tom Cruise, whose "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" took in $23 million for Paramount Pictures.

It's a far cry from Cruise's successes with the "Mission: Impossible" movies for Paramount, but it did do significantly better than the first "Jack Reacher," which opened right before Christmas in 2012 to $15.2 million. That film went on to gross $80.1 million domestically and $218.3 globally. The sequel, directed by Edward Zwick and costing $60 million, will also likely be making the bulk of its money from international audiences.

Coming in third this weekend was the horror prequel "Ouija: Origin of Evil" with $14.1 million — just the latest in a string of highly fruitful and modestly budgeted horror pics this year, including "The Conjuring 2," ''Don't Breathe" and "Light's Out."

Holdovers "The Account" and "The Girl on the Train" rounded out the top five with $14 million and $7.3 million.

Less successful was 20th Century Fox's comedy "Keeping Up with the Joneses," which launched with a tepid $5.6 million. The film, starring Isla Fisher and Zack Galifianakis as a pair of boring suburbanites intrigued by the arrival of a glamourous new couple played by Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot was savaged by critics.

In limited release, the critically acclaimed coming-of-age drama "Moonlight" got off to a robust start in four theaters with $414,740 and many sell-out showings. It's a massive result for a film with no big stars and a fairly unknown director in Barry Jenkins.

"That's an Oscar movie to look out for. It's going to be on everyone's Oscar radar now," said Dergarabedian. "Moonlight" will be expanding in the coming weeks.

Michael Moore's surprise documentary "Michael Moore In TrumpLand" also raked in $50,200 from two theaters this weekend.

Overall, it's the first "up" weekend at the box office in over a month. Dergarabedian noted that it's an interesting market for films right now, which have a lot of competition in theaters in addition to the distraction of the election.

"There's a lot going on, but this is a good weekend," he said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween," $27.6 million.

2."Jack Reacher: Never Go Back," $23 million ($31 million international).

3."Ouija: Origin of Evil," $14.1 million ($7.9 million international).

4."The Accountant," $14 million ($5.6 million international).

5."The Girl on the Train," $7.3 million ($5.9 million international).

6."Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," $6 million ($13.5 million international).

7."Keeping Up with the Joneses," ''$5.6 million ($2.5 million international).

8."Kevin Hart: What Now?" $4.1 million.

9."Storks," ''$4.1 million ($6.8 million international).

10."Deepwater Horizon," $3.6 million ($1.8 million international).


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

1. "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back," $31 million.

2. "Inferno," $28.9 million.

3. "Mechanic: Resurrection," $24.1 million.

4. "Trolls," $18 million.

5. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," $13.5 million.

6. "Luck-Key," $11.9 million.

7. "Bridget Jones's Baby," $10.8 million.

8. "Heartfall Arises," $8.8 million.

9. "Operation Mekong," $8.1 million.

10. "Ouija: Origin of Evil," $7.9 million.


Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at:

Palestinians aim to promote local cinema with new award

A Palestinian film organization has launched a new cinema award in an attempt to stimulate the local filmmaking industry and promote cinema culture in the Palestinian territories.

Filmlab, a local nonprofit backed by European partners, hopes the "Sunbird Prize" will grow to become the Palestinian version of the Oscars. A jury of four Palestinians and two European cinema experts chose Thursday night's winners.

The jury awarded prizes, named after a local bird, to one short and one feature length film out of 80 total entries. A large number of local VIPs, including the Palestinian culture minister, attended the event.

Reflecting the immediate concerns of Palestinians, both of Thursday's winners dealt with the conflict with Israel.

The short, entitled "Izriqaq (Blued)," tells the story of a man who kills his father, then leaves the body next to an Israeli checkpoint. Local villagers, believing the father was killed by Israeli troops, venerate him as a "martyr," and his son gets away with the crime.

"We have been living in a circle of violence. The Israeli occupation created this cycle of violence, and a new generation was born violent because of that," said May Odeh, the film's producer. "The real story is about a man who is violent as a result of the circle of violence around himself and the society," she said.

A second prize was given to "Ambulance," a documentary about an ambulance driver in the Gaza Strip during the 2012 conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

The prize capped the week-long Days of Cinema festival, which screened dozens of Palestinian and foreign movies in five cities across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"Most of the cinema houses in the Palestinian territories have been closed for either political or economic reasons," said Hanna Atallah, Filmlab's artistic director. "We are trying to bring the movies to people in cultural centers for free to enable them to see them and slowly get back to cinema culture."

Days of Cinema screened 80 films, 20 of them by Palestinians.

Khulood Badawi, a spokeswoman for the project, said thousands of people attended the festival.

Movie theaters were popular in the Palestinian territories from the 1960s to 1980s, but shut down after the first uprising against Israeli rule erupted in 1987. Only a few reopened after the uprising ended, and most of those went out of business.

One of the few surviving movie houses in the West Bank, located in the northern city of Jenin, is slated to close later this month. The cinema's spokeswoman, Maisa al-Aseer, said the owners are demolishing the building and selling the land.

"Closing a cinema is similar to closing a school. I have urged the government to buy it because it's the only cinema and theater for the city of almost 250,000 people," she said.

But with the property valued at about $1.7 million, she said prospects for conserving it were dim. "We only have 10 days to rescue this cultural place and unfortunately no one has moved to save it," she said.

Like the local cinema scene, the Palestinian filmmaking industry has largely struggled. Two films, "Paradise Now" (2005) and "Omar" (2013), both by director Hany Abu-Assad, received Oscar nominations for best foreign language film. Several others, including documentaries and shorts, have also received attention at prestigious international festivals.

But these movies often rely on foreign funding and are usually made by Palestinian filmmakers living abroad, sometimes even working with Israeli partners. Most locally-produced movies typically suffer from low budgets, poor acting and weak plotlines.

Atallah said Palestinian cinema production, however, has been slowly improving, moving beyond the exhausted "hero-victim" trope to stories with subtle and controversial plots.

"Palestinian cinema started with documenting the misery of the Palestinians resulting from the Israeli occupation, and the picture of the Palestinian in those movies was either as a hero fighting the occupation or a victim of this occupation," he said.

He noted that a number of the festival's films tackled sensitive social and political issues, such as the rift between the rival Fatah and Hamas governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively, Palestinians fleeing the conflict and seeking better opportunities abroad, and crime in the Palestinian territories.

One of the more popular movies screened this week, "Love, Stealing and Other Things," traces a young Palestinian man who dreams of moving abroad, but turns to stealing cars in Israel and selling them in the West Bank to make a living.

The festival opened with a foreign film, "Our Last Tango," a love story about a famous Argentinian dance couple.

"We opened the event with this movie because it celebrates life and love. We want to promote life and love and culture in our society," Atallah said.

Donald Glover cast as Lando Calrissian in Han Solo film

Donald Glover is joining the "Star Wars" universe.

Disney announced Friday that the writer, actor and rapper will play Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Han Solo "Star Wars" film.

Alden Ehrenreich was previously cast as the title character.

Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller say the new film will explore Lando in his formative years, before the events depicted in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi."

The untitled film is set for release in 2018.

Tom Hanks sees US election warning in thriller 'Inferno'

Embedded within the manic action of "Inferno," the latest big-screen adaptation of a Dan Brown thriller, is a warning about the dangers of seeking simple solutions to complex problems. Star Tom Hanks says it's a theme with echoes in the current U.S. presidential race.

"Inferno" sets Hank's polymathic professor Robert Langdon on the trail of a deadly plague concocted by billionaire scientist Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) out of a sort of warped humanitarianism: He plans to end war, poverty and famine by wiping out half the world's population.

Hanks says the belief that there's a "one-step answer to all problems" is alarmingly relevant.

"Down through history there's been an awful lot of people who say: Here's what the problem is, here's what it was caused by, and all you have to do is my suggestion, there's an easy way in order to make it go away," Hanks said.

"It's very simplistic, it's very reactionary. It's almost like a fundamental embracing of a brand of ignorance," he added. "But I think it's part of the political discourse."

Hanks clearly has the contest between Trump and Clinton in mind.

America, he says, needs "vision and leadership and scope, as opposed to one-stop shopping fixes all."

"I'm not a political activist, nor am I a political animal, but I will say: Look, I'm going to vote for her, because I think this is a marathon in order to solve not just the most obvious problems, but the ones that are coming down the pipe."

Political discussion over, Hanks happily reverts to talking about Dan Brown's mega-successful mix of medieval conspiracies and modern-day skullduggery.

In his third screen outing as Langdon, Hanks is sent on a high-stakes treasure hunt centered around the life and works of Dante Alighieri, whose "Divine Comedy" created a teeming vision of hell that has influenced artists and writers for 700 years.

He's joined by Felicity Jones' brainy medic Dr. Sienna Brooks as ally and intellectual sparring partner.

Hanks, who played Langdon in "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels & Demons" — both directed by Ron Howard, as is "Inferno" — says he still finds pleasure in making the border-hopping thrillers. "Inferno" scurries from Florence to Venice to Istanbul, wreaking havoc in some of the world's most beautiful historic buildings.

"Making movies is by and large a pretty fun enterprise, except when you have to be cold or up late or wear a fake beard or something," said Hanks, after more than three decades in the business still the most affable of Hollywood stars.

"But these are rather special. The team has been together since the first one. We get to go to amazing places: London, Paris, Rome, Venice. Which is a lot better than, say, going to Sony Studios in Culver City, California."

For the viewer, the movie offers the pleasures of a good old-fashioned caper — Hanks likens it to a scavenger hunt — in which the characters must decipher a string of clues in a race against time.

"Time and distance are actually characters in all of these films," Hanks said over the phone from a rainy Florence, Italy, where the movie had its world premiere.

"We only have so much time and how do you get from Florence to Venice? Turns out the fastest way is the train, so we jump on a train and we actually shoot some of the movie while we're going from here to there," he said. "Ends up being one of the advantages of it not being a computer-generated story — these are movies that we shoot in real places."

For the actor, there's also the pleasure of absorbing large quantities of information so his character can dispense gobbets of exposition and expertise about everything from Dante's death mask to the nine circles of hell.

"It makes you a really great dinner companion," Hanks said.

"For a guy who really only had a couple of years of junior college — and none of it was spent in art history class — I end up learning an awful lot about art history."

Howard has assembled an international cast that includes Sidse Babett Knudsen (star of Danish political drama "Borgen") as an ambiguous World Health Organization boss, France's Omar Sy ("The Intouchables") as one of her agents, Romania's Ana Ularu as a mysterious assassin and Indian star Irfan Khan as an amoral international fixer.

Hanks said the diverse cast comes from Howard's simple desire to fill the movie with interesting actors.

"So more cultures are represented, and both genders, and that just ends up being perfect and organic for our story," he said.

"Inferno" opens in the U.S. on Oct 28.


Follow Jill Lawless on Twitter at

Mumbai film fest opens amid protests over Pakistani talent

India's glitziest film festival opened this week to fanfare and fury, as Indians protested the inclusion of Pakistani artists.

With a ceremony in Mumbai's iconic and newly refurbished Royal Opera House, the celebration of Bollywood and international film kicked off Thursday amid the sober announcement that at least one screening was canceled.

The Pakistani classic "Jago Hua Savera," or "Awake, It's Dawn," was dropped from the Mumbai Film Festival schedule after a local organization claimed it would cause public outrage.

Even a public plea from Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar could not stem the calm. Johar released a video message asking Hindu nationalist protesters to not disrupt the Oct. 28 release of his big-budget romantic drama "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil," or "Difficulties of the Heart," which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a small role.

"I beseech you to know one thing, that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears into my film," he said. "I don't think it's fair to them to face any kind of turbulence." Johar pledged to avoid using Pakistani actors or crewmen in future movies.

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated last month after a deadly rebel attack on an Indian military base. India blamed Islamabad for backing the separatist rebels and providing them with training and arms. Pakistan denied the allegation, saying it offers only moral support to the rebels fighting for Kashmir's independence or merger with Pakistan.

As the two governments trade increasingly acrimonious barbs, people in both film-crazy countries have moved to boycott each other's films.

Pakistani cinema's stopped showing Bollywood fare in their theaters weeks ago. And a blanket ban against showing Indian content on Pakistani television networks and radio stations took effect Friday. India's government has not issued a blanket ban but said it would make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The Mumbai festival organizers this week said they dropped the Pakistani black-and-white classic "Awake" due to "the current situation." Meanwhile, the regional political party Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti threatened to disturb any attempts to screen any film involving Pakistani talent.

Many of the Bollywood glitterati attending the festival criticized the outrage and said protests were not the solution.

"Of course you have to stand by the nation, but when it comes to a movie ... there are so many Indian actors who have already put their blood and sweat into it, I think they ( protesters ) should think about it," Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh said.

Film director Zoya Akhtar called out the hypocrisy of protesters shutting down films while ignoring the ongoing cricket matches involving teams from both countries.

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan also said the ruckus was "unnecessary," and that film audiences should be free to decide what they want to see.

"People will see the film and decide for themselves, thank you very much," Khan told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political party along with state authorities in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, have issued statements assuring that violent protests would not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, the weeklong film fest was screening some 175 films, documentaries and short films from more than 50 countries at venues across west-coast city.

The lineup included Cannes' prize winner, the British drama "I, Daniel Blake," as well as other international films including Oliver Assayas' "Personal Shopper," Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu's family drama "Graduation," and Pablo Larraín's "Neruda" about the life of the Chilean poet.


AP journalist Manish Mehta contributed to this report.

'Queen of Katwe' stirs hope in slum where film was born

In a two-room shack in the heart of a Kampala slum, a barefoot 5-year-old boy is being taught how to move his pawns. He is one of scores of Ugandan children following in the footsteps of a local girl who became a chess champion and the subject of a new Disney film.

"Queen of Katwe" is set in this sprawling shantytown that until recently was only known to Ugandans for its high crime rate.

The movie shines a more flattering light on Katwe and the informal chess academy that nurtured the prodigy, Phiona Mutesi. The story is a source of immense pride for the stigmatized neighborhood in Uganda's capital, say some who have seen the film.

"The film ... has the faces I know," said Barbara Nassozi, a science teacher at a Katwe school where some scenes were filmed. "People have liked it so much. It has brought an impact in the area. Katwe is now known in the whole world."

"Queen of Katwe" follows the rise of Mutesi as a chess player amid grinding poverty, with her single mother barely able to support her and her two siblings. After Mutesi's brother is hit by a speeding motorcycle and hospitalized, the mother, played by Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o, stealthily pulls the boy from his hospital bed because she is not able to pay the bill.

Mutesi falls under the spell of an unassuming chess teacher, played by British actor David Oyelowo, who encourages the teenager to learn the game despite the skepticism of her mother, who warns her not to dream big because "you will be disappointed."

Mutesi goes on to win a local championship, compete at events abroad and earn enough money to buy a house for her mother.

The film's pathos will be familiar to those who have lived in Katwe, where poverty drives young people to despair, if not violent crime. Streams of raw effluent follow footpaths. The grade school where some scenes were filmed is makeshift wood structures in the dirt. Young men wash cars for a living.

The Som Chess Academy is an unexpected oasis of hope in the downtrodden community.

"Chess is like a brain booster," one of its students, 11-year-old Lydia Nakaweesa, said shyly. "It is good for mathematics. That is why I come here." She had been forced to miss school for a few weeks because she lacked tuition, she said, but the chess academy is free.

Robert Katende, who started the academy in 2004 and became Mutesi's mentor, now has chess academies in other Kampala slums, with former students acting as instructors when he is not available.

Many children have been knocking on his door following the release of "Queen of Katwe," Katende said.

"Chess, I can say, is very important because it has given the children and the community a platform that they didn't have before," he said. "They would not have any way out of the slums, but they have been able, through chess, to travel, to go for events, to go to different places."

Of Mutesi, who now attends boarding school and is a candidate for college, he said: "There is something special about Phiona because, first and foremost, she is a girl. ... She's also worked hard and believed in herself and taken all the guidance and counsel given to her."

The film has received mostly favorable reviews in Uganda, where it premiered earlier this month at a red-carpet event in which Ugandans, many of whom had never acted before, shared the limelight with stars like Academy Award winner Nyong'o.

Timothy Kalyegira, a prominent social critic in Uganda, drew widespread anger when he wrote online that "Queen of Katwe" is plagued by "lackluster acting by the Ugandans" and "the ineffective sequence of the scenes."

Many disagreed.

"The biggest benefit from (Queen of Katwe) is that here is a film that puts forward a truly Ugandan story of hope, of discovery, of small people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps, taking on and conquering the world," said Daniel Kalinaki, a columnist with Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper.

"It is a reminder that there is more to us than corrupt, power-hungry politicians, hospitals without electricity where doctors operate on patients under torchlight, disease, defiance, destitution and the destruction of dreams."


Associated Press journalist Adelle Kalakouti contributed to this report.

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