The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Sloan Foundation Film

Release Date



  • Chiwetel Ejiofor


  • Chiwetel Ejiofor
  • Maxwell Simba
  • Aïssa Maïga


  • 2019 Sundance Institute Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

A boy in Malawi helps save his village from famine by building a wind turbine after reading about them in a library book.

Young William Kamkwamba lives with his family in rural Malawi, where he attends school regularly and shows great aptitude for his studies. Yet after land development and poor weather lead to a meager harvest, famine strikes the village, alarming the community and forcing William to drop out of school when his father (Chiwetel Ejiofor) can no longer afford the fees. Determined to find a way out of the life-threatening situation his family is facing, William sneaks into the school library to research—and soon conspires to build a windmill pump to irrigate the land. Caught between his father’s close-minded skepticism and the difficulty of creating a machine out of bicycle parts and scrap materials, William races against the clock to fight for his community’s survival. This inspiring true story about the powers of science, engineering, ingenuity, and determination is based on Kamkwamba's 2009 memoir of the same name.

Banner image courtesy of PHOTOFEST

Possible Topics

  • The appropriate technology movement
  • The impacts of industrial farming
  • Climate change in Africa
  • Global food resources and climate change
  • The mind of an inventor; are inventors born or made?

Past Programs


The business of sustainable energy technology

AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, Silver Spring, MD


The winds of Mt. Washington

The Gem, Bethel, ME


Clean energy: We can do it here

Cameo Cinema, St Helena, CA


The renewable energy of wind

Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT