Ahead of the European premiere of his feature directorial debut The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the helmer discussed shooting in the very same village where the story is set, not being able to hide behind another persona when in the director’s chair and being part of an annual Christmas cinema tradition (‘Love Actually’).
With more than 20 years of stage and screen experience — including a notable early role in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad in 1997 and an Oscar nomination for Steve McQueen’s 2013 drama 12 Years a Slave — Chiwetel Ejiofor has joined a growing number of high-profile actors flexing their creative muscles behind the camera.
In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the 41-year-old Brit marks his directorial debut with the story of William Kamkwamba, who rose to fame as a teenager in rural Malawi when, having been forced to drop out of school, he constructed a makeshift wind turbine, helping his family and community during the country’s worst famine in 50 years. The film, picked up by Netflix for worldwide distribution outside the U.K., is the biggest production shot in Malawi to date. Ejiofor adapted Kamkwamba’s memoir and cast newcomer Maxwell Simba in the lead role.
Ahead of the film’s European premiere in Berlin, Ejiofor discussed shooting in the very same village where the story is set, not being able to hide behind another persona when in the director’s chair and being part of an annual Christmas cinema tradition.
What made you choose this to be your first film?
I read the book just after it came out in 2009 and I was just completely captured by it. My first takeaway was that I was just awestruck by this guy, by William and his journey and what he achieved through this extraordinary period of time when there was famine in Malawi. It’s very inspiring. Read more