Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” Movie Review

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared stories from my adventure to L.A. for “The BFG” event, but I’m back today to chat about my review of Disney’s new film “Queen of Katwe”.

This film is based on real life events, which makes it even more special. See what it’s all about below. 🙂


About the Movie

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, escape a life of poverty and save her family.

What I Loved About The Movie

I loved that this film was based on a true story. These types of movies are always my favorite to watch because they feel more human.


Though the setting takes place in Uganda, a country that many of us in USA have never visited, the dynamics of this poor family could possibly be felt from many families around the world. Like most mothers, Harriet simply wanted to keep her family safe and take care of them, which wasn’t always to easiest to do from the slums of Katwe.


Once she learned the game, Phiona became an impressive chess player. One that was so fun to watch! Following her tournament, the ups and downs, and challenging moments had me in a dozen different emotions throughout. It was difficult not falling in love with the people of Katwe. This film has a lot heart, rawness, and vulnerability.

The Official Trailer

Queen of Katwe is in theaters September 23rd!

Disclosure: Disney is sponsoring travel, accommodations, and activities during my stay in Los Angeles.