Sunday, May 5, 2013

William and the Windmill

My friends Sandy and Archie went to see William and the Windmill and contributed this review:

William and the Windmill was an excellent film - very inspiring and a tribute to human ingenuity.  The story is narrated by his mentor from the US who helps William and ultimately gets him from his small town in Malawi to high school and then Dartmouth College in the US after a drought in Malawi put his farming family into hunger and desperation, so they had to take their son out of school.

William, a teenager, was inspired to find a solution to the problems of his family and his village.  He went to the library to continue his learning and found a book about energy.  As a result, he builds a windmill in his small town using locally scrounged materials like his dad's bicycle generator and bottle caps.  Later, he goes back to his home town, and everyone is seeking his advice.  He initiates the building of a new public school because of his passion for education.

When we think about how so many grandiose plans fail, this reminds us how simple low cost solutions championed and executed by local can make such a difference to people's lives.

We particularly liked watching William's reaction to the modern outside world - fascinated but not intimidated.  The film ends when William begins college so his future is still to be seen.

We gave the film a 5/5.  An added bonus was that the film was at our local Fox theatre in the beach, part of Hot Docs effort to expand the footprint of the Festival to new parts of Toronto.  Our only disappointment was that the film makers didn't show up, so we missed having a Q&A.

Note from Lib:  William' story has its origins in the William's talk at TED Global in Arusha Tanzania in 2007.  Tom Reilly on the TED team was instrumental in getting William's book published and was the executive producer of the film.  Participant Films, always attendees at TED, were also involved.  Nice story of TED involvement in getting a story wide publicity. 

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