« March 15, 2013

SXSW Film Reviews: 'William and the Windmill'

Documenting a Malawian youth's inspiring work to transform his village
Review by Jessi Cape

William and the Windmill

Documentary Feature Competition, World Premiere
D: Ben Nabors; with William Kamkwamba, Tom Rielly

William Kamkwamba seized an opportunity when famine destroyed his Malawian village's livelihood. After dropping out of school due to a lack of foods and funds, teenage William found a photograph of a windmill, gathered scraps, and fashioned the windmill that would later generate electricity and bring power and promise to his people. Developing a friendship with American Tom Rielly initiated a sharp turn in Kamkwamba's road toward education and global success, but the straddle between cultures worlds apart taught William a word not used in his native Chichewa: stress. The combination of his youth and a far-beyond-his years maturity grounded William in the chaos. Filmed over five years, director Ben Nabors' documentary paints a subtle but beautiful portrait of William and the windmills that transformed his world. Capturing daydreams of William's faraway home and his new (and sharply contrasting) urban environments, this documentary gracefully illuminates issues of black, white, rich, poor, hard work, pain, destiny, and dreams.

Thursday, March 14, 11:15am, Stateside