The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Film poster
Directed byChiwetel Ejiofor
Screenplay byChiwetel Ejiofor
Based onThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba
Bryan Mealer
Produced byAndrea Calderwood
Gail Egan
StarringMaxwell Simba
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Lily Banda
CinematographyDick Pope
Edited byValerio Bonelli
Music byAntônio Pinto
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
  • 25 January 2019 (2019-01-25) (Sundance)
Running time
113 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a 2019 African drama film written, directed by and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor in his feature directorial debut. The film is based on the memoir of the same name by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. It was screened in the Premieres section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and began streaming in most territories on Netflix on 1 March 2019. It was selected as the British entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[1] It received widely positive reviews with praise going to Ejiofor's direction and the acting.


Born in Kasungu, Malawi, William Kamkwamba is a young schoolboy who comes from a family of farmers who live in the nearby village of Wimbe. William has a talent for fixing radios for his friends and neighbours and spends his free time looking through the local junkyard for salvageable electronic components. Although he is soon banned from attending school due to his parents' inability to pay his tuition fees, William blackmails his science teacher (who is in a secret relationship with William's sister) into letting him continue attending his class and have access to the school's library where he learns about electrical engineering and energy production.

By the mid-2000s, the family's crops fail due to drought and the resulting famine devastates William's village, leading to riots over government rationing. William's family is also robbed of their already meager grain stores. People soon begin abandoning the village, and William's sister elopes with his former teacher in order to leave her family "one less mouth to feed".

Seeking to save his village from the drought, William devises a plan to build a windmill to power the town's broken water pump. His small prototype works successfully, but to build a larger windmill, William requires his father, Trywell, to give permission to dismantle the family bicycle for parts, which is the only bicycle in the village and the family's last major asset. His father believes the exercise futile and destroys the prototype and forces William to toil in the fields. After William's dog dies of starvation and hope seems lost, William's mother, Agnes, intervenes and urges his father to reconsider. William and his father reconcile after William buries his dog. With the help of his friends and the few remaining members of the village, they build a full-size windmill which leads to a successful crop being sown.



On 14 November 2018, Netflix acquired global distribution rights, excluding Japan, China, and the United Kingdom.[2] The film had its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on 25 January 2019.[3] It was later released on Netflix on 1 March 2019.[4]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 86%, based on 64 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind earns its predictably uplifting arc through strong performances and impressive work from debuting director Chiwetel Ejiofor."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 68 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "93 Countries in Competition for 2019 International Feature Film Oscar". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  2. ^ Burton, Lettie; Feingold, Emily; Stewart, Andrew (14 November 2018). "Netflix Acquires Chiwetel Ejiofor's Directorial Debut 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind'". Netflix Media Center. Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (28 November 2018). "Sundance Unveils Politics-Heavy Lineup Featuring Ocasio-Cortez Doc, Feinstein Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  4. ^ Geisinger, Gabriella (25 January 2019). "The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind on Netflix: When is Chiwetel Ejiofor directorial debut out?". Daily Express. Express Newspapers. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  5. ^ "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  6. ^ "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind". Metacritic. CBS Interactive Inc. 2019. Retrieved 1 March 2019.

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