Queen of Katwe
2016 | Drama | 124 minutes | English and Luganda with English subtitles
Phiona is a 10-year-old living in Katwe, a slum in Kampala Uganda. Together with her mother, Nakku Harriet and her brother, they make ends meet by selling maize in the market. It looks like Phiona will never rise above her life of poverty and hopelessness. But her world changes when she meets Robert Katende at a missionary center. In addition to coaching the kids soccer, Robert also teaches them the game of chess. Phiona grows fascinated with chess; Robert begins to realize that she is indeed a prodigy. She soon becomes a top player. Robert takes Phiona and the team to a national tournament at a prestigious local school. Phiona and her teammates are ill at ease surrounded by affluent participants. But Phiona is focused and comes in first place. Phiona is now determined that chess will be her ticket out of the Katwe slum. The next big event is the Chess Olympiad in Russia. If Phiona succeeds here she will become a Grand Master. The competitors come from around the world and they are all very good. Will Phiona achieve her goal? Will she be able to make enough money from chess so she and her family can live better lives?
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 93%
- Metacritic Score:
NYT Critics Pick
National Film Awards (UK): Nominated, Best Actress (Lupita Nyong’o)
Toronto International Film Festival: 3rd Place- People’s Choice Award
Women Film Critics Circle: Best Family Film
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The sense of ownership and authorship permeates QUEEN of KATWE elevating it above your average feel-good biopic and allowing its message to feel not only inspirational but genuine. When it comes to movie surprises, QUEEN of KATWE is a truly pleasant one.
Born in India, based in both Manhattan and Uganda, Mira Nair takes the colors, smells and sounds of the continent and makes them come alive. QUEEN of KATWE, an African chess movie, makes all the right moves.
In director Mira Nair’s hands, Phiona’s story has a richness and unpredictability that separates it from other, superficially similar movies. It has a buoyant. clear-eyed feel for the particulars of culture and place that is among the director’s great gifts. If there is anyone out there capable of remaining unmoved by this true-life triumph-of-the-underdog story, I don’t think I want to meet that person.
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