- Running time124 minutes
Director: Mira Nair.
Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Madina Nalwanga. South Africa/USA 2016. 124 mins.
Newcomer Madina Nalwanga stars in this fascinating and surprisingly tense account of ten-year-old Phiona Matesi’s journey from the Ugandan slums to international chess championships.
While selling corn in her home village, Phiona (Nalwanga) meets footballer-turned-missionary Robert Katende (Oyelowo, Selma, A Most Violent Year), who teaches chess to local children. Recognising her spirit and innate talent, Katende begins to mentor Phiona, teaming up with her impoverished mother (Nyong’o, 12 Years A Slave) to help her fulfil her potential.
Celebrated Indian director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) was drawn to Phiona’s story after making a 2015 documentary about Katende. Aided by The Reluctant Fundamentalist scriptwriter William Wheeler, she has made a film that is as uplifting as it is revealing about life in one of Africa’s poorest countries.
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