Disclosure: I received an all expense paid press trip in exchange for my honest coverage of Disney’s The BFG, Disney XD’s Future-Worm, and related events.
It’s not every day you get to see a movie before it’s in theaters – especially before so many people eager to learn what the hubbub is all about! In June, I was given the chance to be among the first Disney bloggers to screen Queen of Katwe. I love a film that makes you think, has a storyline you can relate to and brings you in so deeply that you feel all of your emotions. For me, Queen of Katwe is definitely one of those films.
“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.
For 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga) and her family, life in the impoverished slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle. Her mother, Harriet (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 (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. Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” will open in U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016.
One of my favorite things about movies that are based on true stories is when you can see who the characters are based on and the actors who portray them. If you share those feelings with me, then you will enjoy the following photos.
Phiona’s story is a powerful testament to the strength of the human spirit, and it all began when she came across Robert’s chess program in a makeshift Agape Church in Katwe. Two years later she became Uganda’s junior chess champion and eventually, the national champion. Then in 2012 at the age of 16 at her second Olympiad, she became a Woman Candidate Master, the first step towards Grand Master. Earlier this year Phiona graduated from St. Mbuga Vocational Secondary School. She is now applying to college and hopes to become a doctor or lawyer.
I hope you enjoyed the images from her incredible journey to becoming a world-class chess player.
Lastly, check out this clip from Disney’s Queen of Katwe. Catch it in theaters 9/23!!
I’ll be sharing more as the theatrical release date gets closer. Until then, follow Queen of Katwe on social media: