Queen of Katwe is a new 2016 biographical drama produced by ESPN Films and Walt Disney Pictures. The motion picture was directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) with the screenplay by William Wheeler. It is an adaptation of a 2012 book authored by Tim Crothers entitled, The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.
The plot of this feature film focuses on the life story of Phiona Mutesi, a girl from Katwe, one of the poorest areas in Uganda, who eventually earns the official title of “Woman Candidate Master” following her noteworthy series of chess victories at the World Chess Olympiads. From humble beginnings, the young woman overcomes obstacles and proves her outstanding abilities both to herself and to the world. The cast of Queen of Katwe includes Madina Nalwanga, starring in the title role as Phiona Mutesi; David Oyelowo as Robert Katende, the teacher who introduces the young girl to the world of chess; and Lupita Nyong’o in the role of Nakku Harriet, Phiona’s mother. The film also stars Peter Odeke as Enoch Barumba, Martin Kabanza as Mugabi Brian, and Philip Luswata as Minister Aloysius Kyazze.
The movie was filmed entirely on location in the Katwe section of Kampala, Uganda. The filmmakers also shot footage in Johannesburg, South Africa. Famous singer, songwriter and musician Alicia Keys wrote and recorded her popular new song “Back to Life” specifically for this new motion picture.
Queen of Katwe debuted at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada. The movie was also recently shown at this year’s Urban World Festival. It is currently being screened only in certain theaters in North America, and will be released everywhere on September 30. It has thus far received generally good reviews for a number of different reasons. It is said by critics to be memorable for its powerful themes concerning teamwork, perseverance, integrity, humility, and empathy. It is also praised for its generally uplifting storyline.
The movie has also scored early kudos for its subject matter, its setting, and the showcasing of a non-Caucasian cast, which can be somewhat rare for a major U.S. release. Last, but certainly not least, actress Lupita Nyong’o’s personal performance in the movie is frequently said to make up for the feature film’s few shortcomings. If you are in the mood for an uplifting, entertaining, and thought-provoking film, don’t miss Queen of Katwe at a theater near you.