A year ago, it was announced that British-Nigerian actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor will write and star in the film adaptation of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a book by Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. The movie, a directorial debut for the Oscar-nominated actor, has now been picked up by Netflix for global distribution.
At age 14, amateur inventor William Kamkwamba taught himself to build a windmill that could deliver power to his family’s property in Malawi, earning the remarkable teen an invitation to share his story five years later, at the 2007 TED conference. The semi-autobiographical book follows 13-year-old William Kamkwamba (newcomer Maxwell Simba) who is thrown out of the school he loves when his family can no longer afford the fees. Sneaking back into the school library, he finds a way, using the bones of the bicycle belonging to his father Trywell (Chiwetel Ejiofor), to build a windmill which then saves his Malawian village from famine. The emotional journey of a father and his exceptional son at its heart, William’s tale captures the incredible determination of a boy whose inquisitive mind overcame every obstacle in his path.
“William’s story represents, what has to be, the future in countries like Malawi: developing countries, overflowing with beauty and harboring enormous potential,” Chiwetel Ejiofor says according to Variety. “A global story, such as this, requires a global platform and I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix on bringing William’s extraordinary tale of determination and inventiveness to audiences worldwide.” Variety reports that the streaming service has obtained global rights with the exception of China, Japan and the U.K. (which BBC has the rights to).
In addition to Ejiofor and Simba, the cast features: Tony-nominated actress, Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child); Aissa Maiga (Anything for Alice); Joseph Marcell (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air); and Lemogang Tsipa (Eye in the Sky).
“We need this kind of story now more than ever, and we’re excited to continue the partnership with Netflix that started with ‘Beasts of No Nation’ and continued with ‘Roma’ to bring this new film to audiences around the world,” said Jonathan King, president of film and television at Participant Media.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is due to launch in 2019 on Netflix and in select cinemas in the U.S. and U.K. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Participant Media by Gabriel Brakin, general counsel & EVP of business affairs, and Krista Wegener, SVP of sales and distribution, along with CAA Media Finance.