It is half term in England, the children are on holiday from school, this whole week the cinemas have been fully booked. Earlier in the week I tried to book Disney’s Finding Dory at my nearest cinema and most of the days it was fully booked. There was endless queues to get into the cinema. So I was expecting that a lot the people queuing up where about to watch Lupita Nyongo’s Queen Of Katwe. It is a Walt Disney film after all. But none of the children or adults joined us into the Queen Of Katwe screen.
I counted 9 children in the movie house, and 4 of those children were mine. The other 5 children where white. This was Milton Keynes, a town with one of the highest black population in Britain. The rest of the audience who were watching the movie where mature white people, and I counted about 5 black people. I have attended some half-term activities in Milton Keynes, specifically free entry ones that are organised by SDA churches, and they will be packed with black families. So I was rather surprised that there where no black people watching this film.
When my children started asking me to take them to the cinema this week, none of them suggested Queen Of Katwe. I can’t really blame them, they never saw the movie advertised anywhere. I suggested to them Queen Of Katwe, and told them that it was a Disney film. But my 9 year old son was not so convinced. He wanted to watch a real Disney film.
Needless to say we found ourselves watching Queen Of Katwe today, the 6 of us certainly made a difference to the numbers in that movie house. Some like to say the movie house was half full, but in this case I say it was more than half empty.
Having watched a countless Disney films, this is without a doubt the best Disney film I have ever watched. I was emotional. My kids where emotional. Even my husband was emotional. Never have I seen a film so moving. I felt like the whole movie was about me, every emotion I have ever felt in life. I looked around me and it felt like every one watching felt the same. There was so much rib cracking humor in it too, after every few minutes the audience broke into fits of laughter. The film portrayed suffering, poverty, privilege, losing, winning, victory and any aspect of life you can think of. Considering its a film about a board game, chess, of all games, one would never expect to feel every emotion under the sun whilst watching it. But it goes beyond the game of chess.A young girl chose to make chess her dream that would change her life.
Only three films I have watched have ever connected to me so powerfully, Fireproof, The Lion King and Titanic, but they were not even close to Queen Of Katwe. The acting was superb. David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga put on stunning performances. And as for Lupita Nyong’o she is a black goddess. She is one phenomenal talented woman. This film was beyond inspiring. And I believe it is the most under rated films of this year, if not of the decade.
I can not understand why this true life Disney film is not being talked about by everyone. I can not understand why the movie house was not packed. Every girl child especially in the western world has a favorite Disney Princess. My oldest daughter grew up always asking me, “Mummy who is your favorite Disney Princess?” And she would be showing me all of them, from Snow White to Cinderella, but I always found it difficult to answer her because there was not one Princess that I or her could honestly relate to.
But today I watched the first Disney film where I saw myself and my daughter in it. From the deepest roots of Africa this was a story of a girl who against all odds achieved a dream that was not even meant for her. A true life fairy tale with a deeper meaning.
I will say this with pride, again this is the best movie I have ever watched. I am not saying this because I am black. I am saying this because my spirit testifies that this is the truth, it pierced through my soul. I know this movie was made for girls and women like me. Its sad that the few people who watched this movie with us where white people. Its sad that black people are not flocking in numbers with their children to watch a movie that speaks directly to their hearts.
I asked my children what they learnt from the film and my 8 year old son said, “Never give up on your dreams.”
My 12 year old daughter asked me what my favorite character in the film was. It was of course Lupita Nyong’o. She played a fierce single mother of 4, fighting so hard for her children in a cruel world, and having been a single mother of 4 myself, her character in the film was too close to home for me.
What I learnt from the film was it doesn’t really matter what dream you have. It doesn’t matter whether the dream is important to the world or not. The dream has to be important to you, and you alone. If everyone understands your dream, then it is not really a dream and there is nothing to achieve or fight for. But whatever dream you have, if you fight for it enough, that dream will take you places that you never dreamt of.
The world may not make noise about Queen Of Katwe, but it doesn’t matter. We have to make our own noise. We as a people have been looked down on from generation to generation, but still like dust we rise. After all, Queen Of Katwe is our Disney film, it’s for our little boys, girls and us too. If we do not take our children to watch it, no one will. By not supporting movies like this when they come out in cinemas, we are robbing ourselves of our international pride. We do not have to wait for the white people to make noise about movies that inspire us, black people. We make our own noise. We become Kings and Queens of our own destinies. Queen Of Katwe may not be Disney enough for the world, but it is Disney enough for us and that is all that matters.