Partnership with Sundance made ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ screening possible |

Partnership with Sundance made ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ screening possible

Maxwell Simba appears in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Chiwetel Ejiofor, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Ilze Kitshoff.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

What: Park City Film and Sundance Institute presents “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”

When: 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7

Where: Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave.

Cost: Free


William Kamkwamba says filmmaker Chiwetel Ejiofor did a good job capturing his trials and triumphs in the feature film “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” which is based on Kamkwamba’s autobiography.

The story follows a young Kamkwamba as he is inspired by a library book to find a way to build a windmill from scrap materials that would save his Malawi village from famine.

“When you make a movie from a book, you can’t make one that is longer than three hours,” Kamkwamba said. “You have to make decisions to help the movie make sense, and overall I think filmmakers did a good job.”

Local audiences will get a chance to see a “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” when Sundance Institute and Park City Film presents a free screening on Monday, Oct. 7, at the Park City Library’s Jim Santy Auditorium.

It was interesting to see how libraries played an important role of him building a wind turbine, which changed the trajectory of his village…” Katharine Wang, executive director, Park City Film

The event is part of the Park City Education Foundation’s One Book, One Community program, which will present a presentation by Kamkwamba on Wednesday, Oct. 9. (See accompanying story).

Katharine Wang, Park City Film’s executive director, saw the film when it premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and said it was a “remarkable and powerful story.”

“It was interesting to see how libraries played an important role of him building a wind turbine, which changed the trajectory of his village,” she said.

Wang also said Monday’s screening wouldn’t have been possible without Sundance’s help, because the film is being streamed at Netflix.

“One-hundred percent thanks to Sundance and their relationship with the filmmakers for being able to bring it back to us,” she said.

LaraLee Ownby, Sundance Institute’s assistant director of the Utah community programs, said the institute is always looking for opportunities to work with other nonprofits on special events such as these.

“We present these screenings as a ‘thank you’ to Park City for allowing us to be part of the community, and we also love opportunities that have a perfect fit with other things that are going on,” she said. “Sometimes it’s harder to get distribution rights with streaming platforms such as Netflix. We’re lucky to work really closely with Netflix during the Sundance Film Festival, and we’re able to work with them for other things like these types of screenings.”

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at this year’s festival, which is given to a feature film that features a science or technology theme, or has a major character who is either a scientist, engineer or mathematician, Ownby said.

“We also screened the film during the Sundance Film Festival’s student screening program,” she said. “It’s definitely family-friendly, and it touches on STEM education and ingenuity to solve problems.”

Sundance screened the film in Coalville during its Summer Film Series in July, and Ownby was excited to hear Park City Film wanted to bring it back for the One Book, One Community program.

“Just before the Coalville screening, Park City Education Foundation reached out and told us that they were bringing William Kamkwamba to Park City,” she said. “As we talked more, we discussed if there was any way we could do another screening in conjunction with the talk. Even if people can’t attend Williams’ presentation on Wednesday, I think seeing the film on Monday is worth people’s time.”

Monday’s screening won’t feature a post-film panel discussion, according to Wang.

“We just want to show the film so people who have and haven’t read the book would be poised and prepared for Wiliam’s speech and know where he’s coming from and what he’s accomplished,” she said. “Those who have read the book will be able to see a new perspective of the story through the film.”

The film ends with Kamkwamba attending Dartmouth, and his speech on Wednesday will continue on from there, Wang said.

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