The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Docudrama | Chichewa with English subtitles | 113 minutes

A true story about William Kamkwamba,  a young schoolboy, living with his family in an impoverished farming village in Malawi. William is an electronic whiz and loves to fix radios for friends and neighbors. He spends his free time in the local junkyard looking for salvageable electronic components. Because of a severe drought, Trywell, William’s father, cannot pay  school tuition and William is forced to drop out. William, heartbroken,  persuades the science teacher to allow him to use the library so he can read  books about electrical engineering and energy production. With drought threatening to ruin the family, William is certain he can build a working windmill that can pump water from the well directly to the fields. But to build the windmill, William needs his father’s bicycle for parts. It’s the only bicycle in the village and Trywell adamantly refuses. His devoted wife Agnes intervenes. They’ve had bad luck throughout their marriage. Agnes convinces Trywell to give William  his bicycle. Maybe the windmill  will save the family from ruin. The windmill works which leads to a successful crop. Word of William’s windmill success spreads and he is awarded a scholarship to attend school. Ultimately he receives a degree from Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Trywell Kamkwamba) / Maxwell Simba (William Kamkwamba) / Aissa Maiga (Agnes Kamkwamba)
Why Stream This Film?
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the perfect film for the entire family to see on a holiday evening.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 86%
  • Metacritic Score: 68
  • British Independent Film Awards: Nominated, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
  • Image Awards: Winner, Outstanding Director in a Motion Picture (Chiwetel Ejiofor)
  • Academy Awards: Selected, British Entry, Best International Feature Film

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I recommend it. THE BOY WHO HARNESSED the WIND is heartfelt and inspiring. Director/actor Ejiofor doesn’t race past the adversities on the way to the affirmative finale. For once, in a family-friendly, true-enough story, the life-and-death conditions look and feel legitimate.
Michael Phillips

Chicago Tribune

The use of  the Chichewa language throughout the film paired with the naturalness of the characters in the village creates a strong sense of pace. Ejiofor captures perfectly the heart of a village struggling to prosper, a family fighting to survive, and a young boy who just wants to keep the world as he knows it alive and well.
Atavia Reed

Chicago Reader

While thoroughly traditional with familiar beats of an exceptional child, his disapproving father and an eventual resolution, Ejiofor’s movie eloquently harnesses all these customary elements and yields them into an irresistible family film with an urgent human-interest dimension at its heart.
Tomris Laffly

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s first film behind the camera is a stirring adaptation of a William Kamkwamba memoir telling an astonishing story of triumph in Malawi.
Benjamin Lee

The Guardian

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