A to Z Challenge – Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe - PosterQueen of Katwe


Directed by Mira Nair

Quick synopsis… In the celebration of the human spirit, a Ugandan girl’s life changes forever when she discovers she has an amazing talent for chess.

  • It’s 2011 in Kampala, Uganda.
  • A girl is sitting down to play chess against an older opponent.
  • But wait… that’s not really when the story begins.
  • It’s 2007 in, I assume, Kampala.
  • Phiona lives in Katwe, a slum of Kampala.
  • She lives there with her mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o) and younger siblings.
  • Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) has been unable to find an engineering position, so he takes a job with a ministry in Katwe, where he works to reach youth through sport.
  • For the kids who won’t (or can’t) play football, he introduces the game of chess.
  • Phiona catches sight of the beginning of this chess club and is intrigued.
  • She learns the game and learns the value of planning and strategy.
  • Robert still seeks a high paying job, since his position as a minister just isn’t cutting it for his family.
  • In the meantime, he continues teaching chess.
  • Phiona… she shows a fairly high aptitude for the game.
  • Robert wants to bring the kids from the slum to play kids in the city.
  • But the man in charge of the tournament is extremely discriminatory toward the Katwe kids.
  • Robert manages to loophole the kids’ way into the tournament as long as he can raise the funds for their entry fees.
  • To raise the money, he plays football, but this makes his wife angry because it could aggravate an old injury.
  • But he does manage to raise the money.
  • Harriet follows her kids to the chess club one day, and pulls them away, assuming they’re working for gamblers.
  • She doesn’t let Robert explain what they’re doing there.
  • So he finds her to explain how good they both are, especially Phiona.
  • He also promises that, if she allows them to participate in the tournament, he’ll make sure they are able to enter school.
  • Seems like a pretty hefty promise to me…
  • When they arrive at the university where the tournament is taking place, the Katwe kids are all overwhelmed by everything.
  • They don’t even sleep in the beds provided, finding the floors more like home.
  • Before the games begin, some of the kids are so overwhelmed, they don’t think they can compete.
  • But their coach comes in and gives them the pep talk they need.
  • The private school kids prove to be incredibly arrogant when facing their Katwe opponents.
  • Phiona is seated against the best of the best.
  • And wouldn’t you know it, Phiona wins the gold medal.
  • Robert’s wife, a teacher, agrees to teach Phiona how to read so she can learn more about the game and its strategies from expert books.
  • Brian, Phiona’s brother, is run down by someone on a moped.
  • He’s treated at the hospital, but since the family cannot afford to pay for the treatment, they have to sneak away.
  • When they get back to their home, they find it’s been locked up by a heartless landlady who throws them out for not paying rent.
  • Robert finds Phiona, hoping to convince her to come back and keep playing chess.
  • He teaches her that she must “never be quick to tip your king.”
  • What he means is that she should never surrender… not in chess… not in life.
  • With this movie being so recent, I’m not going to give away how it ends or what happens when they reach 2011 again.
  • If you like a good underdog story, then this is an excellent movie for you to check out.
  • If you’ve got Disney+, I highly recommend it.
  • Whether you’re into chess or not.

A to Z Challenge - QThanks for stopping in while I participate in this year’s A to Z Challenge. I’m gonna keep on hitting these Disney movies each day, except Sunday. You’re welcome to come back for more if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.

Monday’s Disney movie begins with an R and is one that I watched repeatedly with my cousin when we were kids. It’s a movie from the ’80s that’s a sequel to a movie from the ’30s. And it’s much darker and much more faithful to the source material. Any guesses?


3 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – Queen of Katwe

  1. I’ve never been able to pick up how to play chess. I guess I’ve never been good at planning and strategy.

    I never saw your R movie, but the kids of Generation X who did see still have nightmares about it to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A to Z Challenge 2020 – Reflection | The Confusing Middle

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