Town of Runners
Town of Runners
Town of Runners

Town of Runners

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The recent arrival of television and the internet, combined with the development of roads and mobile phone connections by the Chinese, places this generation’s teenagers on the borders between tradition and modernity.

Town Of Runners is a feature documentary about young runners from Bekoji - an Ethiopian highland town which has produced some of the world's greatest distance athletes, including world and Olympic champions Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele and Derartu Tulu.

Made by award winning director Jerry Rothwell, the film tells the stories of three teenagers - Alemii, Hawii and Biruk - who dream of following in their heroes’ footsteps. The film follows three years in their lives as they move from school track to national competition and from childhood to adulthood. Set against the background of the seasonal rhythms of this farming region, and the impact of increased urbanization and globalization, Town Of Runners is a unique insight shows rural young Africans, living between tradition and the modern world, as they strive to build their own future.

Cultural Significance

Running has become a way of life for young people in Ethiopia’s Southern Highlands. The small town of Bekoji holds few opportunities beyond subsistence agriculture, particularly for girls, but inspired by its world champion athletes, teenagers like Alemi, Hawii and Biruk have set their sights on running their way into a different future. Their stories are set against the backdrop of a rural Ethiopia that is undergoing enormous changes as traditional ways of life are transformed by globalization. The recent arrival of television and the internet, combined with the development of roads and mobile phone connections by the Chinese, places this generation’s teenagers on the borders between tradition and modernity. The film delves into the children’s lives to understand the significance of running for them – to create a portrait of Ethiopian youth seen not through the standard lens of poverty and famine, but one of ambition and hope. —Jerry Rothwell

Related Links

Filmmaker Blogs

What Use Are Dreams?: Jerry Rothwell of Town of Runners Connects with Audiences in WA

Posted Sep 16, 2013, by Jerry Rothwell, Director, Town of Runners posted in Articles

What Use Are Dreams?: Jerry Rothwell of Town of Runners Connects with Audiences in WA

An hour before our screening in Tacoma's Grand Cinema, runners have already begun to gather.  Screening Town Of Runners around the world, I’ve come to appreciate the strength... Read More

VIDEO: Town of Runners Director Jerry Rothwell in Washington

Posted Sep 13, 2013, by Royale Ziegler, Social Media Manager posted in Articles

VIDEO: Town of Runners Director Jerry Rothwell in Washington

The Town Of Runners gives a unique insight into the ambitions of young Ethiopians living between tradition and the modern world, as they try to run their way to a different... Read More

Where the Road Takes You

Posted Mar 14, 2013, by Jerry Rothwell, Director, Town of Runners posted in Articles

Where the Road Takes You

Jerry Rothwell is a British documentary filmmaker. He joins Film Forward in Imperial Valley to screen and discuss his latest film Town of Runners. Read Jerry's previous... Read More

Two Sides of a Fence

Posted Mar 5, 2013, by Jerry Rothwell, Director, Town of Runners posted in Articles

Two Sides of a Fence

Jerry Rothwell is a British documentary filmmaker. He joins Film Forward in Imperial Valley to screen and discuss his latest film Town of Runners. Read Jerry's previous blog ... Read More

Jerry Rothwell Brings Town of Runners to Imperial Valley

Posted Feb 27, 2013, by Jerry Rothwell, director, Town of Runners posted in Articles

Jerry Rothwell Brings Town of Runners to Imperial Valley

Jerry Rothwell is a British documentary filmmaker. He joins Film Forward in Imperial Valley to screen and discuss his latest film Town of Runners.

“You going to El Centro?”... Read More

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