The new movie Queen of Katwe has a familiar theme: It's the real-life story of a girl from the slums who discovers an unlikely talent (chess) and becomes an unlikely champion. But in other ways, the film is revolutionary: It may be the first time a major studio (Disney) has set a movie in Africa with all black actors and no animals.

Back in 1988, Indian-American director Mira Nair burst onto the scene with her debut feature Salaam Bombay!, a ground-level portrait of Bombay street kids that brought the qualities of Italian neorealism — and its key successors, like Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy" — to a nascent American independent scene. With her new film Queen of Katwe, Nair comes full circle, at least in the sense that she's again addressing the perils of extreme poverty and the resilient children who withstand it.

This past week, John Abdallah Wambere finally heard the seven words he had been waiting for:

"Your application has been recommended for approval."

Wambere, a prominent Ugandan LGBT-rights activist, had applied for asylum in the United States, due to anti-gay persecution in his home country.

Watoto staff

Their music is pretty well guaranteed to put a smile on your face but the kids who are making it haven’t had a lot to smile about. They're from strife-torn Uganda.

“Some of the children we have were abandoned on the streets," said Watoto Children’s Choir Team Leader Phillip Mugerwa.

“Others, they saw their parents murdered during war. Others saw their parents die of HIV and AIDS,” he said.