Disney’s Queen of Katwe, is the true story of a girl from Uganda named Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga). She spends her days selling vegetables on the streets of Katwe, one of the most poverty-stricken slums in Kampala, so school is not an option. While Queen of Katwe is most definitely an inspirational film, and one that touched my heart, is Queen of Katwe for kids?
My answer is yes and no. I took my 11-year-old daughter with me, and I asked her what she thought at then end. Her reply?
“It wasn’t bad.”
My heart sunk a little. Did she not watch what I saw? Did she not feel in her heart what this movie made me feel?
Phiona’s mother, Harriet (Lupita Nyong’o), a proud and strong-willed woman, works hard to support her family, and while she loves and protects her children fiercely, she is also consumed by the daily grind and worries that she can never give her children a better life. Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) runs a chess program for Katwe children in a tiny make-shift center. Think Boys and Girls Club on a much smaller scale.
This story is about a girl who comes from the slums. What hope does she have to rise to something greater? I love stories about dreams. We all have dreams, and we all come from different circumstances. One thing unites us all, though. With hard work, focus, and determination, anything is possible.
Topics of Conversation
My daughter and I had plenty of things to discuss. I think she missed some of the points of the movie and once I brought them up, I saw the light turn on. She made her own correlations and connections to her own life. We talked about Africa. We talked about the beauty there. We talked about accents, and how we’re different, and how we’re the same.
We talked about the relationship of Harriet and Phiona. Boy, did we talk about mother/daughter relationships. There were some scenes she did not understand about Phiona’s sister, and we had some mature conversations. We did talk about a mother’s love. I have such respect for single mothers.
We also talked about not giving up or quitting. Phiona faced a lot of obstacles on her journey to becoming a chess champion. She was a fighter, but there were times when she wanted to give up. I would have had the same thoughts. Have you ever walked into a situation where you’ve been intimidated, when you’ve felt all eyes on you? Kids feel this all the time.
Man, so many great conversations came from this movie. Gratitude. Being happy for the success of friends. Triumph and tragedy. Excellent teachers. Support systems. If you want to be able to talk to your children about things that matter, to see how other people live, and learn about other cultures, bring them to see this film.
What Ages Should Watch It?
I would recommend ages 8 and up. My 9-year-old would enjoy many aspects of the film. Benjamin’s funny quips and faces. The actual chess matches. The costumes and scenery. I think some of the conversations would go over her head, and she may be a little bored during some parts. My little kids would not sit still and would ask where the cartoons were.
As they grow older, I want all my daughters to watch Queen of Katwe. Many times the kids would poke fun when Phiona would beat a boy. This film shows men and women with equal strength. That is something that cannot be dismissed. No, this is not an action-packed Marvel film, but this movie is more important than that. If you want to be touched and moved to chase after the most far-fetched dream you can think of, then please see Queen of Katwe.
QUEEN OF KATWE opens in theaters in limited release on September 23rd and everywhere on September 30th!
Visit the official QUEEN OF KATWE website HERE.