This film is based on the true story of a ten-year-old Ugandan girl with a background of poverty and living in a slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. Phiona Mutesi lives with her mother Nakku Harriet, her older sister and two younger brothers. Their father has died and none of the children can afford to go to school. Phiona hauls water every day for the needs of the family and she sells maize on the streets. Phiona and her brother Mugabi Brian discover a missionary program in her neighborhood. They can get a cup or porridge and learn how to play chess. The teacher is Robert Katende and he is waiting for an opening for an engineering job.
I thought this film was good and very real. Chess is a game that cuts across issues of class, level of education and amount of income. Children that are very poor and looked down on by society can overcome with their talent. Phiona’s mother is constantly watching out for her children, she doesn’t take any nonsense and she wants the best for them. Everyone in the family suffers because of he loss of the husband/father. 4* (I really liked this movie)
124 min, Bio directed by Mira Nair with Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze, Ivan Jacobo, Nicolas Levesque, Ronald Ssemaganda, Ethan Nazario Lubega, Nikita Waligwa, Edgar Kanyike, Esther Tebandeke, Hope Katende.
Note: Imdb 7.3 out of 10, 93% critic 87% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Roger Ebert 3* out of 5*, Amazon Video 4.8* out of 5* with 124 reviews, Amazon DVD 4.6* out of 5* with 60 reviews
Special Note: This movie was filmed in both Uganda and South Africa. The actual people from the story are shown at the end along with the actor playing the role. Director Mira Nair previously made a documentary about the life of Robert Katende. Ugandan fashion model Sylvia Owori bought a role as an extra at an auction raising money for Maisha Film Labs. Another prize was a 12 Years a Slave signed by Lupita Nyon’o.