Movie Review: Queen of Katwe

Movie: Reviewed by: Brian Bwengye
Director: Mira Nair
Genre: Biography, drama, sport
Release date: October 7, 2016 (Uganda)
Top cast: Lupita Nyongo as Harriet Nakku, Madina Nalwanga as Phiona Mutesi and David Oyelowo as Robert Katende

Director Mira Nair returns to Uganda once again, three decades after she made Mississippi Masala. While Mississippi Masala centred on a middle-class Indian- Ugandan family forced into exile by Idi Amin, the Queen of Katwe is an inspirational biopic set in the slums of Uganda.

Although Queen of Katwe is a much better film, most people do not see it. But opportunity is all around us. Life can be hard but everyone has certain priorities over others.

The movie isset here in Uganda. While the rest of the world hears news and stories referring to our problems of homelessness, poverty, high HIV prevalence and political violence, one would think that hope would not be in our mindset but opportunity strikes anywhere.

In 2007, in the town of Kampala, Uganda, in a slum called Katwe, we meet the young Phiona Mutesi who earns a living with her single mother Harriet

Nakku, by selling corn on the street to cars passing by. She and her mother make so little that they cannot afford to send her and her siblings to school.

Things change for Mutesi when she stumbles across a missionary, Robert Katende (played by David Oyelowo), who is teaching several children how to play chess.

Despite not being able to read, Mutesi gets the game very well and manages to beat the best players in the group. Katende gets the group into a preparatory school match where the children see a world that they have never dreamt of.

Although Phiona would love to go get involved here, her mother affirms they cannot afford the cost and is too proud to accept charity from Katende. As Mutesi becomes better at the game, she gains a spot on the Uganda team for the Grandmasters match in Russia. This way, will she find a way out of her poverty?

It is nice to see that Disney is not afraid to place its bets on such a Ugandan story, but their optimism paid off.

It is one of the big box office hits worldwide this year, a must watch!


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