Chiwetel Ejiofor’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind which marks the actor’s directorial debut has started production in Malawi. Ejiofor will star in the project he also adapted from the book written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

Participant Media, BBC Films and BFI, with funds from the National Lottery, are lead financiers on the project, along with Head Gear, Econet and LipSync. Participant 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.

Potboiler Productions’ Andrea Calderwood (The Last King of Scotland) and Gail Egan (A Most Wanted Man) are producingthe film. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King will executive produce with BBC Films’ Joe Oppenheimer, the BFI’s Natascha Wharton and authors Kamkwamba and Mealer.

The film follows 13-year-old William Kamkwamba (newcomer Maxwell Simba) who is thrown out of the school he loves 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 village from famine. The emotional journey of a father and his exceptional son at its heart, William’s tale captures the incredible determination of a boy whose inquisitive mind overcame every obstacle in his path. Key themes from the film aim to raise awareness around environmental sustainability and the power of education.

In addition to Ejiofor and Simba, the cast features Lily Banda as William’s older sister Annie; Noma Dumezweni (Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as Edith Sikelo, the librarian who helped bring William’s story to public attention; Aissa Maiga (Anything for Alice) as William’s mother Agnes; Joseph Marcell (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) as Chief Wimbe; and Lemogang Tsipa (Eye in the Sky) as teacher Mike Kachigunda.