Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” has landed at Netflix. The streaming giant has the British star’s film globally with the exception of China, where it does not have a service, Japan, and the U.K., where the free-TV rights are with the BBC.
Based on the bestselling book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, the film follows 13-year-old boy William, played by newcomer Maxwell Simba, who finds a way to save his village in Malawi from famine. The true story was the subject of a documentary that played at SXSW in 2013, “William and the Windmill.”
Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) wrote the screenplay and plays William’s father in the movie, which was shot in Malawi. “A global story such as this requires a global platform, and I’m thrilled to be working with Netflix on bringing William’s extraordinary tale of determination and inventiveness to audiences worldwide,” he said.
Netflix, Participant Media, BBC Films and the BFI financed the film in association with Head Gear Films & Metrol Technology, Lipsync and Cornerstone Films. Andrea Calderwood and Gail Egan produced for Potboiler Productions. Cornerstone Films is the international sales agent.
“We need this kind of story now more than ever, and we’re excited to continue the partnership with Netflix that started with ‘Beasts of No Nation’ and continued with ‘Roma’ to bring this new film to audiences around the world,” said Jonathan King, president of film and television at Participant Media.
The film will launch in 2019 on Netflix and in select cinemas in the U.S. and U.K. The deal was negotiated on behalf of Participant Media by Gabriel Brakin, general counsel & EVP of business affairs, and Krista Wegener, SVP of sales and distribution, along with CAA Media Finance.
Ejiofor is represented by CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman. In the U.K. he is represented by Alex Irwin with Markham Frogatt & Irwin, and Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.