Chiwetel Ejiofor directs and stars in the inspiring real-life story of a teenager who brings electricity to his village in Malawi

Chiwetel Ejiofor has made his debut as writer-director, and the result is exhilarating and rather inspiring – a story of success against the odds, of ingenuity and resourcefulness, of a father and son painfully coming to terms with each other. Ejiofor brings a real sensitivity and empathy to this material, as well as some bold, fluent storytelling.

He has adapted a 2013 memoir by the Malawi engineer William Kamkwamba, which told the remarkable story of how as a teenager he provided electricity for his village by designing and building a wind turbine, hooked up to a simple bike-type dynamo. Ejiofor has exercised a little creative licence here and upped the narrative stakes, by making this turbine vital for pumping otherwise inaccessible well water for the drought-stricken village’s crops, and in doing so battling against his father’s angry realisation that his kid has done what he could not. But Ejiofor’s creative interventions are entirely justified. They speak to the larger ideas – the pain and confrontation involved in trying something radically new.

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