I remember first writing about this kid back in 2009, during the early S&A days, on the old site. And now, after much publicity, a book, and even a TED talk, he’s now going to be the focus of a feature length documentary.
A brief recap of his story…
When he was just 14 years old, Malawian William Kamkwamba built his family an electricity-generating windmill from spare parts, working from rough plans he found in a library book. Thanks to the attention he received around the world for his efforts, he co-wrote a book about the experience, encouraging global investment in alternate natural energy sources. The book titled, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, was published in 2009, and you can find it on sites like Amazon.
The upcoming feature film, currently in development, is appropriately titled Moving Windmills, and follows William from this early invention to present day; the filmmakers (Ben Nabors and Tom Rielly) say that they’ve been working with and following William for almost 4 years now. Principal photography was finished later last year, and the filmmakers took to Kickstarter to raise finishing funds necessary to complete post-production. And as of January of this year, they were able to raise almost 3 times what they asked for! Their original campaign was to raise $40,000; then ended up raising over $111,000! Nice! Obviously support was strong with this one.
Here’s the full synopsis:
In 2001, William Kamkwamba, a young man from a village in Malawi, was forced to drop out of school due to a devastating famine. Turning to self-education, William saw a picture of a windmill in a textbook. Using scrapyard parts such as a broken bicycle, tractor fan, plastic pipes, bamboo and wires, William built a series of windmills that would change his life and the life of his family forever. “Moving Windmills” follows William as he travels abroad to speak at the TED Conference, visits America to learn from renewable energy pioneers, joins the first pan-African high school, publishes a book detailing his accomplishments, departs on a media tour where he sees the overwhelming impact of his story, and manages the construction of a new school in his village, starting to address the educational shortcomings there. This is a documentary about struggle and success, about imagination and innovation. It is about tragic conditions and awe-inspiring accomplishments. “Moving Windmills” shows the power a single person has to change his community and inspire people to improve their lives. As William’s popularity has grown, as he has straddled two different worlds and come to learn new attitudes and new lessons, we have followed him, capturing a pivotal moment in the life of a young man of insight and the community that supports him.
By the way, I should mention that there was actually a short film version of William’s story, also made by Nabors and Rielly, which played the film festival circuit in 2008 and won a number of awards, which I’m sure all helped in the production of the feature film which is currently in post-production, and which we should see sometime in the next year I’d imagine, likely premiering on the film festival circuit.