The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them.
– Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
There’s quite a few films that come to mind when it comes to being inspired by true stories: Seabiscuit, Patch Adams, The Blind Side…The list could go on and on. Why? Because real life is interesting. It’s messy and tragic, but mostly, it’s beautiful.
Films based on true stories are my favorites. At times, they are relatable, and I love how they open your mind to a new world of possibility. This was the case with the Queen of Katwe. The quote above shares the essence of the story, which is sure to capture the heart of people around the world.
ABOUT THE FILM
If you aren’t familiar, this film is a true story about a young girl, Phiona, who lives in the poorest slums of Uganda, Africa. Her fate is changed as she is taught to play chess and how to read by a kind missionary family. A true “hope from absolutely nothing”-type story, she struggles as she learns the game and becomes more confident, finally, in the end, becoming an international chess master, who leads her family to a better life.
This was such an incredibly moving movie, and my favorite of the year so far. The story is amazing on its own, but is built with such beauty and such realness that you can’t help but form a corner to cheer on each character of the film.
My favorite part was when the slum children visited a prestigious university for a chess tournament. Instead of sleeping on the beds they were provided with, they all fell asleep next to each other on the floor — something that was native to the culture in the village. It shot right through to my heart because it showed how these children really live, and how lost they were when it came to the privileged life. It was both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and made me think as I crawled into my own warm bed at night: we are so lucky, but maybe people in third world countries are lucky in a different, more beautiful way because all they have is each other — literally.
Lupita Nyong’o plays the role of Phiona’s mother in this movie, and her character was hands down my favorite. The strength she showed made my mama heart sing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets some major accolades from this role, which would absolutely be deserved.
Another thing that struck me about this film was the scenery. It was shot entirely on location in Uganda — something that seems to be rare for many films these days. I loved seeing the culture come through and learn more about this part of Africa I am not familiar with. Though the scenery seemed bleak at times since it’s SO different from the way we live here in the U.S., there was also something captivating about it that made me think it looked like a happy place.
I originally planned to take my near 6-year-old to this one, but with the screening on a Tuesday night, I decided to pass and let her sleep and bring a girlfriend instead. I’m glad I did for the simple fact I am not sure she would fully understand it. With that said, the sweeping scenes of the slums would have been great for showing her how others live in our world.
It truly is a fantastic and inspiring story for all ages. For the theater, I would suggest ages 10 and up only because it’s a bit slow moving at parts and the thick African accents can be difficult to understand at times, which may cause chatter of “What did she say, mom?”
Otherwise, it’s the perfect one to rent as a family when it becomes available, and a wonderful movie to see in theaters with girlfriends or older kids.
Yes, go see this film. It’s EXCELLENT, and I promise you will leave feeling inspired.
I was invited to a press screening for this film. All opinions expressed belong to me.
What are your favorite movies based on true stories?