(This is from my column but I loved, loved, loved, this movie because Phiona is a mighty girl – and her mother a mighty woman)
In Katwe, a slum outside of Kampala, Uganda, Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) drops out of school at a young age to help her widowed mother, Harriet (Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o), support the family. Meanwhile, Robert (David Oyelowo) takes a low-paying job at a Christian youth center in Katwe since he cannot find a job as an engineer.
Phiona follows her brother to the center one day. To give the children something to do, Robert teaches them chess, using rustic boards and rocks as chess pieces. Phiona, dressed in rags and with minimal hygiene, is self-conscious, but catches on quickly. It’s not long before Robert realizes that she is a chess prodigy. He registers Phiona, her brother, and another student in a district competition. The authorities resist having poor children among the other students, but the games go on.
Chess competition is not an easy road for Phiona...click HERE to continue reading the REEL TIME column at St. Anthony Messenger.