Queen of Katwe is the colorful true story of a young girl selling corn on 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 (Monsoon Wedding) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (The Hoax) based on the book by Tim Crothers, Queen of Katwe is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher (The Darjeeling Limited) and John Carls (Where the Wild Things Are) with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo (Selma), Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) 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,


Review

An incredibly inspirational film, it may deal in several of the clichés that appear in many underdog sports dramas but does so with vibrancy and passion.
A fantastic cast also help to lift it above the familiar. Experienced actor David Oyelowo is dependably great as Robert Katende, while Lupita Nyong'o is exceptional as Phiona's fiercely proud mother. If there's any justice Nyong'o should be picking up many supporting actress awards to go with the ones she won for 12 Years a Slave. The real find however is Madina Nalwanga who makes her acting debut as Phiona. She has to carry a lot of the movie and does so with considerable charm and maturity.
The film also looks amazing thanks to 12 Years a Slave cinematographer Sean Bobbitt who captures the slums of Katwe in a completely unsentimental fashion.
Queen of Katwe is a pure crowd pleaser. Ignore any preconceptions you may have about a film that involves the game of chess, as it joins Innocent Moves as a great film about the subject. It's also worth sitting through all of the end credits as Nair seems reluctant to step away from the joyous atmosphere this film creates


By Kevin Knapman






Queen Of Katwe (PG)

2h 4m

Director: Mira Nair
Starring
: David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o, Madina Nalwanga


UK Release: Friday 21st October 2016