Dinner and a movie with VAFF: William and the Windmill Reviewed
Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing Ben Nabors’ award-winning documentary William and The Windmill when Reel Causes held a screening at SFU Woodwards (Thursday, May 29). Having heard wonderful reviews of the film, I was intrigued as to whether it would live up to its appraisal. Unexpectedly, as I took my seat in the dark theatre, I was instantly engrossed in William’s story.
William and The Windmill invites us into the life of William Kamkwamba, a young man from Malawi, Africa. Forced to quit school when his parents could no longer afford the fees, William had to work to provide for his family. At only 14 years old, William armed himself with knowledge gained from one library book and with it as his guide, he harnessed his creativity and taught himself to build windmills using junk parts. Eventually able to accumulate enough energy to power a generator, William lead his family out of famine and rescued his vanishing farming community.
The story of William’s success travelled with the wind and he soon became a media sensation. Fortunately, filmmaker Ben Nabors was there to capture William’s future endeavours. And with the guidance of American Entrepreneur Tom Rielly, William suddenly sees a future that he never thought possible. Along with a book deal and a speaking tour, William’s life was over-taken with opportunities to travel the world, participate in leadership programs and attend Ivy League schools.
However, a feeling of skepticism surfaced as I watched William enter his new life in America. Despite Rielly’s help and support for William, I had the unsavoury notion that business evidently became more important. With a sizable book deal, being taken out of school for speaking tours, and signing over the rights to his life’s story for a movie, it’s hard not to see William as a pawn in a much bigger game of fame and fortune.
In the end, to see a young man make something of himself to support his family and community is what is the most uplifting about William’s story – proving that anything is possible, no matter your circumstances. And while he was thrust into unexpected roles, like becoming a village leader, William’s humble roots kept him grounded. Cameras beautifully capture each moment of strength and uncertainty and William captivates the audience with his candid humour and boyish charm, making you feel as though the camera is not even there.
A story meant to inspire, even in the toughest of times, William’s experience will leave you wondering: If you could do anything to change your life, what would it be?