Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Berlinale Special Gala

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Aïssa Maïga (Actress), Maxwell Simba (Actor), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Director, Screenwriter), William Kamkwamba (Author)

Moderation: Jenni Zylka

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Malawi at the turn of the millennium. Thirteen-year-old William lives in a simple village with his family, who live off the land. He is proud to be able to attend school. But then the rains fail to appear and the region is threatened by famine. His family can no longer afford his school fees and so his father makes William work on the parched fields. Nonetheless, this gifted boy secretly manages to gain access to the library. With the help of books, he intends to construct a windmill that will power an irrigation system. But he will need his father’s bicycle. In spite of a number of obstacles, the boy refuses to give up.
Actor and BAFTA winner Chiwetel Ejiofor has adapted William Kamkwamba’s autobiographical novel of the same name for his directorial feature film debut, in which he also turns in a compelling performance in the role of the father. A family drama that not only addresses the consequences of climate change and increasing industrialisation, but also reveals the connection between poverty and a lack of education.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

United Kingdom 2018

English, Chewa

113’ · Colour


Chiwetel Ejiofor (Trywell Kamkwamba)
Maxwell Simba (William Kamkwamba)
Lily Banda (Annie Kamkwamba)
Noma Dumezweni (Edith Sikelo)
Aïssa Maïga (Agnes Kamkwamba)
Joseph Marcell (Chief Wimbe)
Lemogang Tsipa (Mike Kachigunda)


Written and Directed by
Chiwetel Ejiofor
Dick Pope
Valerio Bonelli
Antonio Pinto
Sound Design
Rob Ireland
Production Design
Tulé Peake
Bia Salgado
Francesca Van Der Feyst
Alexa Fogel
Assistant Director
Stephen Carney
Production Manager
Shiv Mandavia
Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan
Executive Producers
Joe Oppenheimer, Rose Garnett, Natascha Wharton, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Strive Masiyiwa, Payne Brown, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Peter Hampden, Norman Maerry
Donald Sabourin


Chiwetel Ejiofor

Born in 1977 in London, UK to Nigerian parents, he is best known as an actor and has played roles including the title character in Twelve Years a Slave for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He most recently appeared in Garth David’s Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix. Alongside his acting work in the theatre and for film and television, he has already written and made two short films that have screened at festivals. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is his debut feature film as a director.

Filmography (as director)

2008 Slapper; short film 2013 Columbite Tantalite; short film 2018 The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Produced by

Potboiler Productions

World Sales

Cornerstone Films