80 user 146 critic

Queen of Katwe (2016)

2:25 | Trailer
A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.


Mira Nair


William Wheeler (screenplay by), Tim Crothers (based on the ESPN Magazine article and book by)
2 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Madina Nalwanga ... Phiona Mutesi
David Oyelowo ... Robert Katende
Lupita Nyong'o ... Nakku Harriet
Martin Kabanza ... Mugabi Brian
Taryn Kyaze Taryn Kyaze ... Night (as Taryn "Kay" Kyaze)
Ivan Jacobo Ivan Jacobo ... Young Richard
Nicolas Levesque Nicolas Levesque ... Older Richard
Ronald Ssemaganda Ronald Ssemaganda ... Ivan
Ethan Nazario Lubega Ethan Nazario Lubega ... Benjamin
Nikita Waligwa ... Gloria
Edgar Kanyike Edgar Kanyike ... Joseph
Esther Tebandeke Esther Tebandeke ... Sara Katende
Hope Katende ... Hope Katende
Philip Luswata Philip Luswata ... Minister Aloysius Kyazze
Peter Odeke Peter Odeke ... Enoch Barumba


Living in Katwe, a slum in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona, her mother Nakku Harriet and younger members of her family. She and her younger brother help their mother sell maize in the market. She also helps care for her baby brother. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende at a missionary program. Katende coaches soccer and teaches children to play chess at a local center. Curious, Phiona approaches and learns the game. She becomes fascinated with it and soon becomes a top player in the group under Katende's guidance.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One girl's triumphant path to becoming a chess champion.


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic elements, an accident scene and some suggestive material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Most of the songs from the movie are popular Nigeria songs heard all over Africa See more »


Every game of chess but one ends with a checkmate, something which hardly ever happens once players have acquired some experience. The one exception is when Phiona resigns a game which is treated as a personal crisis, when in fact it's normal to resign from hopeless positions - especially when playing with the black pieces, for this brings the disadvantage of not making the first move.

Never seen in the movie are any games ending with a draw, which in chess is extremely common. See more »


Phiona Mutesi: [Triumphant "finger - snap"] .
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are displayed initially with images from the film and of the characters and events beside/ behind them. This then changes to a music clip of "#1 Spice" by Young Cardamom And Hab (from the soundtrack) being shown to the left of the credits. The clip continues until the end of the credits. See more »


Referenced in Lorraine: Episode dated 21 October 2016 (2016) See more »


Written by Saba-Saba (as Saba Saba), Jesse Shatkin (as Jesse Belief Shatkin), Albert Collins & Sean Due Lashley
Performed by Saba-Saba (as Saba Saba) featuring E-Dee
Courtesy of Tujjababya Productions
See more »

User Reviews

Beautifully filmed, original and inspiring tale of triumph over adversity.
14 December 2016 | by CineMuseFilmsSee all my reviews

Walt Disney's Queen of Katwe (2016) follows a familiar story formula and at the same time is a totally original cinema experience. How can these opposites co-exist? It is another 'inspiring teacher' story with a fairy tale theme of a lowly maiden who finds fame, but instead of a prince, she finds a missionary devoted to helping impoverished Ugandan children. Vivid cinematography takes you right into the villages and ghettos and walks you through dirt streets and shacks that have no windows or doors. It is this hyper-realistic photography with a mainly amateur cast that takes this film to the next level. Ten-year old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) sells corn on the streets of Katwe in Uganda to help her destitute single mother provide food and shelter for the family. Generations of girls like her face a daily struggle to survive and she has no future except in dreams of escape. Brought together by fate, she meets Robert (David Oyelowo) a missionary who coaches soccer and chess to get aimless kids off the street. She has never seen a chess board before but her curiosity draws her to learn the game despite the taunts from boys who shame her for her smelly ghetto clothes. Excelling quickly, she becomes a top player in the local club and her new confidence gives her identity and purpose. The film follows the predictable narrative arc of poor kids rising to take on the country's best. With Robert's mentoring and financial help, Phiona leads a team to compete at the national chess championships, a personal journey troubled by tensions with her mother. The story is kept sanitised for general Disney audiences by avoiding the kind of high-stake risks facing the teacher of the same storyline in The Fencer (2016). As a Disney production, you might expect to see every cliché that can possibly be squeezed out of this genre. Instead the story is light on melodrama, mainly because of the natural authenticity of Phiona and the other cast. Career actors could not have pulled this off so well. The metaphor of pawns over-powering queens and the importance of practice, planning, and confidence are a little obvious. The move-by-move close-up shots of chess competition will no doubt delight chess players but may be found tiresomely repetitive by others. But these are minor quibbles given what this film achieves: an original story told honestly on an exotic location without the usual Hollywood baggage. It is quietly inspiring and a minor triumph for Disney.

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Official Sites:

Official Site





Release Date:

30 September 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Queen of Katwe See more »

Filming Locations:

Kampala, Uganda See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$304,933, 25 September 2016

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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