Joining the Queen of Katwe on the red carpet in London

By: Dave Gunner

October 11, 2016

irgin Atlantic Cabin Crew on the Red Carpet

Red uniforms on the red carpet.

The Queen of Katwe

Flying and films. They go together extremely well. Both transport you to new places. Both involve escapism, new experiences, learning and adventure. They might even make you wiser. And what better way to spend your time onboard than by watching a movie?  It’s not just a way of passing the time. A really good movie can do even more – it can inspire, motivate and uplift, just like all your best travels. We were the first to introduce seatback TVs in all cabins over 20 years ago and we continue to deliver films onboard which both provoke thought and enable escape. You can check out our latest onboard offering here.

irgin Atlantic Cabin Crew on the Red Carpet --- photo ©Rich Hardcastle

Red uniforms on the red carpet.— photo ©Rich Hardcastle

The BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express®

Running from 5 – 16 October 2016, the annual BFI London Film Festival has been bringing both headline-grabbing blockbusters and more niche but no less brilliant independent films to London for 60 years. Originally set up to compete with the likes of the Cannes Film Festival it is now a highly acclaimed event on the annual festival circuit, and this year will present 193 fiction and 52 documentary features to the capital’s cinephiles including 18 world premieres and 39 European premieres. As an airline well known for our commitment to film, we’re delighted to be one of the festival’s main partners, and it goes without saying that our own Virgin Atlantic-sponsored Gala Night is among the events we look forward to most every year. The festival marks London as a place where people go to tell stories and we’re very proud to be a part of it.

Roxie on the carpet with Lupita Nyongo ©Rich Hardcastle--- photo ©Rich Hardcastle

Roxie on the carpet with Lupita Nyongo — photo ©Rich Hardcastle

The Queen of Katwe

This year our Gala Night film premiere was Disney’s biographical drama Queen of Katwe, the true story of Phiona Mutesi, who at the age of ten, while living in the Katwe slums on the outskirts of Kampala in Uganda, discovers a talent for chess. Her world changes when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo) at a missionary program. She learns the game, becomes fascinated with it and soon becomes a top player under Katende’s guidance.

On the one hand it is classic Disney; a family story with an underdog using sport to change their fortunes. On the other hand it’s far removed from your typical Disney movie. Made entirely in Africa, most of the film was shot in the real Katwe slum just outside Kampala. Peppered with life affirming moral stories and yet never shying away from the hard reality of poverty, the movie brings to life the strong and resilient character of the Ugandan people –  something celebrated loudly by the many Ugandans in the cinema.

David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'o on the red carpet

David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o on the red carpet — photo ©Rich Hardcastle

The project was a labour of love for Disney’s senior creative executive Tendo Nagenda and director Mira Nair who adapted the book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers. You can learn more about Phiona and her story in this Guardian article.

This is a truly uplifting story that covers everything from a mother desperate to do best for her children to using chess as a metaphor for the strategies and struggles needed to get on in life. It is a story of aspiration, of belief and of triumph. And like all the best stories, this one is true.

Michael Kiwanuka plays at the after show party

Michael Kiwanuka plays at the after show party photo ©Rich Hardcastle

Roxy, our Roving Reporter

Our premiere was a great opportunity to mingle with the stars, watch the film, learn more about the characters and, of course, have a good old party at the end of the night. The red carpet was everything you imagine it to be. Glamorous, with huge crowds of fans as well as dozens of film crews and cameras. Joining us were some of our Flying Club members and travel agents, and representing us on the red carpet was our travelling reporter Red Carpet Roxy who got some really insightful interviews with the stars :


Our favourite film critic Jason Solomons said “Watch out for it – it could do a Slumdog and go all the way”. You won’t be disappointed and we hope to be showing it onboard in early 2017.

Dave Gunner

Dave Gunner

I love telling the story of our people, our planes, our places and our planet through Ruby Blog.