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Based on “Queen of Katwe” by Tim Crothers

Director: Mira Nair

Producer: Lydia Dean Pilcher

Writer: Bill Wheeler

Production Company: Disney

Uganda Production Service Company: Talking Film Production

South Africa Production Service Company: Moonlighting Films


Based on “Queen of Katwe” by Tim Crothers

“Queen of Katwe” is the inspiring true story of Phiona Mutesi, a child from the largest slum in Kampala, Uganda, who stumbles upon a magical world in the game of chess, and a powerful gift that takes her beyond her daily life of poverty, which is filled with constant challenges for her family.

Phiona spends her days selling maize in the market in order to help her struggling mother keep a roof over the heads of her brothers and sister. Not long after the family is evicted from their dilapidated shelter and forced into the streets, nine year-old Phiona follows her older brother to the meeting place of “The Pioneers”, a group of young children who come together to play chess, lead by Ugandan missionary Robert Katende. Phiona, who has never been taught to read or write, is taken with the game and becomes determined to learn and compete with the others. While at first an outcast, Phiona’s knack for the game is soon apparent and against all odds Phiona trains and begins to make a name for herself in a game previously reserved for the privileged children of Uganda.

Coach Katende, who also grew up in the Kampala slums and works tirelessly to empower these children through chess, raises the funds for The Pioneers to travel to a prestigious chess tournament. The spirited children of Katwe do better than expected at the tournament but Phiona surpasses them all, setting her on a path to compete for the most coveted chess title in all of Africa. But when Phiona returns to Katwe, she must reconcile the harsh reality of life at home with the world that’s been opened up to her. She must grapple with every day life in Katwe where girls quickly become mothers and the threat of AIDS, kidnapping and starvation loom large.

Queen of Katwe is a moving and universal story about the power of potential and perseverance. By the age of eleven Phiona becomes her country’s junior champion and at fifteen, the national champion. Katende grooms within Phiona a desire, passion, and self-confidence that helps drive her forward, and ultimately brings her much success, a success she is able to share with her family and the people of Katwe.


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