By Deji Aroloye
Last week, new Walt Disney movie, Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair and featuring songs of two Nigerian artistes, Davido’s Skelewu and MC Galaxy’s Sekem in its soundtracks was screened at the Silverbird Cinema, Victoria Island, Lagos with some students and journalists in attendance.
An American biographical sports drama film starring Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo among others, Queen of Katwe depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy from Katwe who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.
In the film, Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a resident of a poor community in Kampala, shatters the limitations imposed on her by family background and environment to become a chess champion. After the death of her father, the burden to care for the family is shouldered only by the mother, Nakku Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o). The only option Nakku has is to engage her children to help in hawking maize in the small community.
Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) employed as a football coach by a sport outreach ministry to train young people discovers that some children are not interested in the game. Thinking of an alternative, he decides to start a chess club, which gets the attention of many children. Phiona’s brother, Martins, happens to be one of them.
On a particular day, Martins leaves where he is hawking with her sister and goes to the chess club. Phiona trails him to the building where the club is situated. Staying glue to the window frames, she sees her peers including boys and girls inside; the chess master beckons on her. And her journey into the world of chess begins to unfold with interesting events that shape the champion in her. Katende himself also has its own moments in this phase with the motivation and support he offers Phiona.
Queen of Katwe is filled with lessons that can be helpful in life. A student, Eniola Olofindahunsi, who spoke with TS weekend after the screening said: “The movie teaches us that we should not give up quickly on our dreams. I like what Phiona did. She gave attention to what she was doing. That is why she became great.”
Commenting on why school children were invited, Chief Executive of Bluepictures Distribution Company, Joy Ilibeno, said: “Queen of Katwe is an advocacy film that impacts on kids. Education is one aspect of life that is important. They have to learn, they have to plan and get it right from the beginning.”
Queen of Katwe hits the cinemas nationwide today.