“William and the Windmill” wins Grand Jury Award at SXSW

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William-and-the-Windmill-mainLast night at SXSW, William and the Windmill was awarded one of the festival’s top two honors, taking home Grand Jury Award for Documentary Feature. William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind The film tells the story of TED Speaker William Kamkwamba, who has come to be known by the title of his memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. At age 14, Kamkwamba built a windmill out of junk parts, adapting a design he saw in a library book in order to provide electricity for his family in rural Malawi. This incredible feat of engineering caught our attention, and he was invited to speak at TED Global 2007. His 6-minute talk, called “How I harnessed the wind,” was life-changing and catapulted him from regular teenager to international energy superstar.

William and the Windmill, directed by Ben Nabors and starring TED’s own Tom Rielly, who became Kamkwamba’s mentor, follows Kamkwamba’s journey from his home in Malawi to Dartmouth College, reflecting on the highs and lows of living between two very different cultures. As IndieWire writes in its rave review of the film, “Kamkwamba’s scientific achievement speaks for itself, but the attention he received in its wake is a thornier issue that Ben Nabors turns into a fascinating look at the tricky balancing act of third-world activism.”

William and the Windmill received recognition last night at SXSW alongside Short Term 12, winner of the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature. Below, check out stills from William and the Windmill, courtesy of Nabors. And stay tuned to the TED Blog for a Q&A with Kamkwamba.


Director Ben Nabors accepts the Grand Jury Award on Tuesday night at SXSW.


A still from the film: William hard at work on his windmill.


A still from the film: A windmill from afar.


A still from the film: William, deep in contemplation.

Here, watch the film’s trailer:

And head to the Tribeca Film Institute website to read about 5 films that influenced Nabors as he made this doc »