Columbia University

In 'Queen of Katwe,' Mira Nair considers chess, poverty and the vibrancy of life

In 'Queen of Katwe,' Mira Nair considers chess, poverty and the vibrancy of life

A mix of old-fashioned Hollywood optimism with an unblinking view of contemporary struggles, the new film “Queen of Katwe” is an upbeat tale from an impoverished place. With its Disney imprint, African locations, stars Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo and lack of any major roles for white performers – there are no white saviors here – the film is quietly radical.

The same might be said of its director, Mira Nair. The Indian-born filmmaker saw her debut fiction feature, 1988’s “Salaam Bombay,” nominated for the foreign language Academy Award, and ever since, in films such as 1991’s “Mississippi Masala,” 2001’s...

81°