The Queen of Katwe tells a story that has never been told before.
The movie highlights the story of a girl named Phiona Mutesi and the hardships that she and her family face by illustrating and bringing to life the culture, colors, and people of the Katwe slum in Kampala, Uganda. The many different aspects and characterizations of the actors in the movie bring to life the true story in a remarkable and refreshing way.
In the beginning, the main character, Phiona, sells corn with her brother and mother to help the family get by. However, it is not until later in the movie when she discovers her chess abilities and becomes an 11-year-old chess protégé. The children and people in the movie may be poor and living in a slum but they are wealthy in spirit and have no self-pity on themselves because do not let money and material things define them. Nonetheless, Fiona continues to reach for bigger things and dreams for a better life.
The audience is introduced to Phiona as a feminist very early in the movie. When Phiona attended a chess session for the very first time and is introduced to Katende, her chess coach, the other kids who attended teased her for being a girl and for the odor she carried with her. Much to their disapproval, Phiona stood up for herself by showing the others she was not the person to be bullied and stayed for the remainder of the chess lesson. The next day, however, she returned clean from a bath and with better clothes on. In a country where women are continually marginalized and given boundaries, Phiona broke all limitations set against her and moved her family out of the slums through her strong passion of chess.
The story is so inspiring because it shows a part of African culture not always discussed. Movies and documentaries are known for talking about the negative past that Uganda and other African countries have faced but this movie told of an entirely different story. The bright colors and upbeat music presented the audience with a strong taste of the culture and people in Katwe and debunked the common myths towards African culture. Because this story was based on a true story the actors were able to meet the people they were portraying and this helped to make the movie authentic and real for the audience. Many of the places filmed in the movie is where the actual events took place.
It was so important for the director to be female and for the story to be told and filmed the way it was because in so many movies the main focus gets shifted to highlight the importance of the male coach and how big of an attribute he was to the success of the team. But the Queen of Katwe is focused on Phiona and her dreams and aspirations. Even in a country where women have little rights and abilities to survive on their own, Phiona knew the limitations against her and still defied every odd. She garnered the respect, love, and support of the Katwe community, Uganda, and other little girls looking up to her. She knew her present situation wasn’t her final destination and remained motivated even when she was down. She is a true queen.
Image Source: Variety.com