Phiona Mutesi is a preteen girl living in Katwe, a Ugandan slum. When chess teacher Katende invites Phiona into his class he has no idea that she possesses a unique, natural talent for the game, able to think eight moves ahead of her opponent. As she moves higher and higher in the chess world, Phiona begins to realize her own self-worth and sees options for her life beyond the poverty and struggles of her family.
Based on a nonfiction book by sportswriter Tim Cruthers, Queen of Katwe is a simple story, well told. Like Phiona you’ll probably be able to predict its moves before they come, but the movie does have a lot of unexpected surprises. Like most underdog movies, we understand that the protagonist will come out on top. But Queen of Katwe also explores the unconventional, though realistic, idea that succeeding can sometimes feel scary or confusing, especially when success means leaving behind the only life you’ve ever known.