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Queen of Katwe (2016)

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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 & 19 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 Nikita Waligwa ... Gloria
Edgar Kanyike Edgar Kanyike ... Joseph
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 »


Official Sites:

Official Site





Release Date:

30 September 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Reina de Katwe See more »

Filming Locations:

Kampala, Uganda See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$304,933, 25 September 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,805,918, 23 December 2016

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,367,161, 5 June 2017
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 »

Did You Know?


The filmmakers intentionally cast newcomer actors in leading and supporting roles to introduce a lot of fresh talent with regards to young actors required for the film. A mixture of South African and Ugandan youth were cast in various roles. The only big name actors in the film are Lupita Nyong'o and David Oyelowo. See more »


Benjamin: [around 113:00 celebrating wins in international tournament in Sudan the three are at a table drinking floats and eating french fries] We use to eat rice and beans in the village... look at what we are eating now mmm mmm mmm.
Ivan: Ketchup... it's the greatest thing ever invented !
[laughing the 3 hold up one french fry with ketchup on it in a toasting fashion and say "ketchup yeah... Cheers"]
Ivan: .
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »


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


Kuzaala Kujagaana
Written and Performed by Irene Namatovu
Courtesy of Da Nu Eagles
See more »

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User Reviews

A weak script and average acting bring this true story down
2 July 2017 | by eddie_bagginsSee all my reviews

It's been a long time since I've seen such potent material be hampered so badly by average acting and an equally average script and while Mira Nair's Queen of Katwe still gets extra marks for being such a nice and inspiring true story, this Disney effort feels like a big missed opportunity.

Delivering dialogue that's clunky via amateurish acting, scenes that are shoddily edited and placed together and a general feel as though this tale is building up to a moment that never even comes, Katwe squanders the tale of young Ugandan chess master Phiona Mutesi in an overlong film that wants to tug at our heart strings but can't do so due to its execution.

Nair is a director with some decent runs on the board with films like The Namesake and Vanity Fair and while Katwe includes notable cast members like Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o and the ever good David Oyelowo, the two performers can't elevate the films supporting cast, made up largely of unknowns and by the end of proceedings it feels as though only Oyelowo walks away with the ability to say he could hold his head up high.

It's always harsh to pick on a first time performer as a point of blame but newcomer Madina Nalwanga struggles to bring the difficult role of Mutesi to life and her often emotionally void presence that is bereft of any engaging elements mixed with a disappointing collection of key scenes delivered without an ounce of conviction really kill the chances Nair and her team had of bringing the underdog story of the impoverished and uneducated Mutesi to life, even though the story itself and surrounds of the slums of Uganda hold much life that could've come bursting onto the big screen.

Final say –

An inspiring true story that's unfortunately told without an ounce of inspiration itself, The Queen of Katwe may appeal greatly to those that count chess as a favourite past time and some die-hard Disney fans but this Disney sports film is easily one of the mouse house's most disappointing feel good sport themed movies in sometime and goes to show that casting and script work makes or breaks movies no matter the foundation.

2 smelly chess opponents out of 5

7 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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