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The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)—MalawiThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019)—Malawi

This British drama is "based on a true story," namely, the 2009 autobiography of the same title by William Kamkwamba (born 1987) from the village of Kasungu in Malawi. When a famine forced him to quit school because his family had no money for the tuition (and bribes), young William started going to the village library, where he developed a love for electronics. After tinkering with batteries, radios, and water pumps as a youngster, at the age of nineteen, in 2006, the precocious William built a wind mill out of local trees, repurposed bike parts, and scraps that he found in the local junk yard. His electric turbine powered the water pump, "brought the rain," and allowed the village to plant crops year round, thus saving them from famine. In real life, his inspirational story rocketed him to international fame, including graduation from Dartmouth College and a TED Talk about his wind mill. Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor, best known for his roles in hits like Amistad, Dirty Pretty Things, Kinky Boots, and 12 Years a Slave, wrote, directed, and stars in the film. The movie had its world premiere at the Sundance festival in January 2019, and then its global distribution on Netflix in March of 2019. The real story of Kamkwamba is better than this dramatization, which has garnered positive if modest reviews. It's inspirational, to be sure, but also formulaic and predictable. Nonetheless, any positive cinema coming out of Africa, where the movie was filmed, is a wonderful development. I watched this movie on Netflix.

Dan Clendenin:

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