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.
As you may remember, I had the privilege and pleasure of being one of twenty-five bloggers asked to attend some of June 2016’s events. I wish I could tell you what part of the trip was my favorite, but that’s nearly impossible. What I can tell you is how much I enjoyed Disney’s Queen of Katwe. With that said, I am delighted to bring you my Queen of Katwe film review. It had me experiencing all kinds of emotions — and if you know me (even the tiniest bit), I show them all openly.
“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. Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler, “Queen of Katwe” is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, p.g.a. and John Carls, p.g.a. with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. 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 select U.S. theaters on September 23, 2016, and nationwide on September 30, 2016.
This film will tug at your heartstrings. It will have you cheering for players of a game you may not even know how to play. You’ll find yourself reaching for tissues instead of popcorn. Honestly, it will leave something within your head and heart you may not have had when you stepped into that theater. I found myself laughing, crying, more than anything wanting Phiona Mutesi to succeed beyond everyone’s wildest expectations of her, hoping her family would be okay during so many moments in their lives, and continuously rooting for the underdog.
If you’ve ever faced any sort of adversity in your life, you may identify with the emotions, hope and certain outcomes of this story. I will tell you that I certainly didn’t know what to expect going into the advanced screening room to watch this. I didn’t know if it was a documentary or actual story acted out. I can’t say enough how many “feels” there are to it. Hope to see you at the theater!
If you’ve not yet seen the trailer, here’s a clip:
Follow along with all things Queen of Katwe: