I just took my 6-year-old son to see The Secret Life of Pets last weekend and laughed my way through the flick. We've also seen Zootopia and are eagerly awaiting Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Trolls. But the most important movie we may see this year is Queen of Katwe. The movie, based on the life of Phiona Mutesi, a young girl from Uganda training to become a world chess champion, looks to be more than just a beautiful story to be told.
You see, both my sons play chess. It is taught in their classrooms as part of our school's kindergarten and first grade programs, and then the boys signed up for it as an after-school activity every year thereafter. They find the competition fun and exciting, while I love how it gets them using their brains after the school bell rings — not to mention it's something they can play together at home that doesn't involve a ball flying around my living room.
But each week when I go to pick them up from the class, I scan the room and can count the number of girls on one hand. Of the 30 or more kids that take the class each week, there are a sum total of three girls. They're just not into it.
So I'm beyond excited to take my sons to see the story of Phiona, the girl who was selling corn on the streets of rural Uganda until she was introduced to the game of chess. We see plenty of silly, animated films each year, as well as fantasy films that get our creative juices flowing, but it's rare to find a live-action human interest story that will captivate children. Queen of Katwe looks like it will do just that and teach them something too. I love the idea of them not only seeing a young girl succeed at something they love so much, but seeing it happen in a land so far from our own, where it means so much more than just winning a trophy. And with Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, and the newly discovered Madina Nalwanga starring in it, it looks like it will be a true winner.
Queen of Katwe hits theaters on Sept. 23 — my calendar is marked. Is yours?