Malawi’s hollywood set
By Yvonnie Sundu
Movie lovers are still twirling in the world magic that is Black Panther. The Wakanda forever fever is still settling in some parts of Africa and in some individuals.
What is more exciting about the movie is not just the story, but also the painting of Africa in the positive light and the black cast that makes it pure African.
The wind of positivity is expected to continue blowing across Africa, particularly in Malawi as a Hollywood movie about Malawi and its citizen is set to be released in October.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a true life story of William Kamkwamba, a 30 year old Malawian, who gained fame after coming up with a wind turbine to power a few electrical appliances in his family’s house at Wimbe, Kasungu. He used blue-gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrap yard and a solar-powered water pump that supplies water.
Together with Bryan Mealer, he wrote his story in a biography which in 2017, was picked by Oscars’ nominee, Chiwetel Ejiofor and chronicled into a movie.
Debuting his directing role, Ejiofor shot the film in Kasungu while Participant Media, BBC Films and BFI, with funds from the National Lottery, being lead financiers of the project, along with Head Gear, Econet and LipSync.
“Participant Media will be handling the sale of North American distribution rights, while Cornerstone Films will oversee international sales and distribution in all other territories. Econet will handle Sub-Saharan African distribution.
According to deadline.com the Potboiler Productions’ Andrea Calderwood ( The Last King of Scotland ) and Gail Egan ( A Most Wanted Man ) are producing the film.
“Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King will be bexecutive producers with BBC Films’ Joe Oppenheimer, the BFI’s Natascha Wharton and authors Kamkwamba and Mealer,” reads in part the story published on deadline.com.
Now, one of the local actors Kelvin Ngoma cherishes his Hollywood cameo and cannot wait for the movie.
“In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind , I am Charity, the village rebel. I am also William Kamkwamba’s cousin, who likes teasing him and later we become good friends. It is one of the main supporting roles. Kenyan actor Maxwell Simba plays the main role of William Kamkwamba,” explained Ngoma in an interview.
“The film chronicles the life of a 13-year-old, who is thrown out of the school he loves as his family can no longer afford fees. He then finds something to do by playing with the bones of the bicycle belonging to his father, Trywell played by Ejiofor. He uses those skeletons to build a windmill, which then saves his village from famine.
It is an emotional journey of a father and his exceptional son at its heart and William’s tale captures the incredible determination of a village boy whose inquisitive mind overcame every obstacle in his path in a village” reads a synopsis of the movie on deadline.com.
The film raises awareness around environmental sustainability and the power of education.
“It is a movie that I am sure will bring the world to a standstill. I will not talk more but rather leave the rest to the fans to judge it,” explained Ngoma.
He recalls his reaction upon getting the news that he will be featured in a Hollywood movie.
“When I received a call from them after the auditions, it took me some seconds before I could say a word. My heart was thumping. It was a dream coming true. To think of a Hollywood call, it was a momentous feeling. I was very excited,” he recalled.
On auditions, the actor said: “They were great and the panel was good. They treated us as if we were all picked.
That was in March 2017. We then did a second round of auditions in front of actor Chiwetel in September.”
Working with an actor of such calibre attracted mixed feelings in Ngoma.
“It was amazing and he is a great actor. I felt good acting alongside an Oscar nominee. However, when acting I had to forget that he is an Oscar nominee to avoid getting distracted,” he said.
From the movie, Ngoma hopes to create many opportunities as he dreams of taking acting to the next level.
The film is scheduled for release later this year and will be premiered in the United Kingdom and the US before hitting Malawi.
The cast is not entirely Malawian. Apart from Kenya, the movie also features South Africans and Europeans.
It features Lily Banda as Annie, Noma Dumezweni as Edith Sikelo, Joseph Marcell as Chief Wimbe, Aissa Maiga as William’s mother, Agnes as well as Lemogang Tsipa from Eye in the Sky as teacher Mike Kachigunda.”n