Disclosure: I was invited on a press trip for Disney Entertainment. My travel and accommodations were provided by Disney. All opinions are my own unless noted otherwise. No further compensation was received.
Before the Pete’s Dragon Event trip last month, I didn’t know much about Queen of Katwe. I tried to do research before going to Los Angeles to screen the film. The movie is a story of a girl, Phiona Mutesi, from Uganda who defies the odds as she goes through a tough journey from a poor family to a chess champion.
About “Queen of Katwe”
“Queen of Katwe” is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
I was told I would need tissues before I watched the movie. I didn’t grab any. I regretted that decision. I laughed so many times and I cried more times than not. The film is so beautifully made and inspirational. I cannot help but think of my own daughters when I see a film like this. How as a mother I could do more to lift them up but also protect them like Lupita Nyong’o’s character did for her on-screen daughter.
So how does Phiona go from the slums to a champion? You’ll just have to watch but I will gladly give you some basics.
The film is as I’m sure you know, based in Katwe. It is poor village just outside of Uganda’s capital of Kampala. Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) lives with her widowed mother (Lupita Nyong’o – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Jungle Book), older sister, and two younger brothers. They try but money is hard to come by as is clean water and food.
While Phiona was selling maze she sees her brother run off and she quietly follows. She soon finds him in a hut with Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a soccer player turned missionary who is teaching local children how to play chess and giving them porridge. Phiona is instantly drawn to the game and although she doesn’t understand the rules, she cannot stop thinking about it and wanting to learn more.
Soon enough she is beating the other children and Coach Robert can sees huge potential in Phiona. It’s just what she needs. This drive in her becomes stronger as Robert teaches Phinoa how to read and write. Phiona’s mother, on the other hand, is battling with how she can parent and love her daughter. She doesn’t want to see her disappointed but also wants her to dream and have more than she had. It’s a struggle I think we all deal with as parents.
The film is rated PG and while some parts of the film hint at sex, it’s not too in your face. I would suggest bringing an older child. I will be bringing my 12-year-old. Definitely bring your kids if they play sports. This film would be great for them to see the struggles but successes that hard work and determination can have.
Queen of Katwe is an uplifting, beautiful movie. It proves that where you come from does not matter and we cannot make excuses for ourselves. If you want something, go get it! Don’t be like me though – bring a packet of tissue.
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