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Netflix has acquired global rights — with the exception of Japan, China and U.K. free TV rights — to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the directorial debut of Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner Chiwetel Ejiofor.
It plans to launch the film on its streaming platform and select U.S. and U.K. cinemas in 2019.
The film — which was first announced by The Hollywood Reporter and shot in Malawi last year — is based on the best-selling book of the same name by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, and follows 13-year-old Kamkwamba (played by newcomer Maxwell Samba) who is thrown out of school in Malawi when his family can no longer afford the fees. Sneaking back into the school library, he finds a way, using the bones of the bicycle belonging to his father Trywell (Ejiofor), to build a windmill, which then saves his Malawian village from famine.
Ejiofor wrote the screenplay to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which also stars Aïssa Maiga (Anything for Alice), Lily Banda, Lemogang Tsipa (Eye in the Sky), Philbert Falakeza, Joseph Marcell (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and Noma Dumezweni (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).
“William’s story represents, what has to be, the future in countries like Malawi: developing countries, overflowing with beauty and harboring enormous potential,” said Ejiofor. “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.”
Added Participant’s president of film and TV Jonathan King: “Chiwetel brings incredible passion and skill as a filmmaker to this moving and impactful story about a young boy who uses his heart and mind equally to help better his community. 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.”
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind has been backed in development and production by the BFI and BBC Films with Head Gear, Metrol Technology and LipSync, in partnership with Participant Media. LipSync Post is also on board to complete full postproduction. Cornerstone Films is the international sales agent.
The deal was negotiated on behalf of Participant Media by Gabriel Brakin, general counsel and executive vp business affairs, and Krista Wegener, senior vp sales and distribution.
Ejiofor is represented as a writer/director by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, and for acting by Alex Irwin at Markham & Froggatt & Irwin. U.S. representation is with CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman
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