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..
Ugandan fashion mogul, Sylvia Owori, bought her way into the film as an extra at an auction that acted as a fundraiser for Maisha Film Labs. Other prizes included a "12 Years a Slave" DVD signed by Lupita Nyong'o. See more »
[At 143:45 Robert looks across the table at Fiona]
I can see your mothers strength in you Fiona... How is she?
[Fiona looks down not wanting to answer]
If I could see my mother... for just one more time... I would have gave everything in my possession for that.
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Just before the credits, there are short scenes of the major characters with the real people they portrayed. A brief synopsis of what the real people have done since the events of the film and are doing at the time of the film's completion is displayed as well. See more »
Mira Nair previously focused on Uganda in 1991's "Mississippi Masala" (about an Indian family forced into exile by Idi Amin). "Queen of Katwe" is the true story of Phiona Mutesi, who started playing chess to get out of Kampala's slums. Katwe is the sort of place where you have to bribe people to do even minimal tasks. Lupita Nyong'o plays Phiona's mother, the sort of person who knows the slums all too well and isn't thrilled with her daughter's goal.
One of the most effective scenes is when the Katwe children compete against the students of King's College: the Katwe children wear the traditional Ugandan attire while the rich children wear western clothes, showing the disconnect between the social classes (a scene towards the end of "Mississippi Masala" showed something similar: when the father returns to Uganda, he looks westernized while the Ugandans wear the traditional clothes).
Admittedly, I don't know how accurate the movie is, especially since I had never heard of the story before the movie's release. Nonetheless, it's a powerful, uplifting story. The people involved in this movie deserve ample recognition for their contributions, and I hope that it draws more attention to Phiona Mutesi's achievements.
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