Documentaries are certainly not easy to make. They can be overly long, biased or downright boring. ‘Town of Runners,’ a documentary by Jerry Rothwell about Bekoji, a ‘running town’ in Ethiopia, is anything but this. The film is narrated by Biruk, a young runner who owns a kiosk in Bekoji. It follows the path of two young girls, Hawii and Alemi, who are best friends and share a common passion: running. The girls come from poor families that work on farms all day, and are far removed from the life of a professional athlete. Their talent and discipline earn them initial success at the National Youth Championships and they go on to be selected by Ethiopian running clubs. Inspired by such athletic idols as Tirunesh Dibaba and Kenenisa Bekele, their dream is to become professional runners and compete in international competitions.
Even for people who aren’t into watching sports, there is little in the way of such a great story. It is splendidly told and beautifully captures the struggle to follow your dreams and passions. The film excels at depicting the harsh realities of life in Bekoji: from the runners’ struggle to win to their fear of losing. The beauty of rural life in Ethiopia caught in cinematographic and musical harmony juxtaposed with a new reality of modern life moving into the town was stunning. We left the cinema wondering what the future holds for the protagonists.
You should go see it! It’s showing at the Shorts&Docs Festival at Bíó Paradís on Monday, May 7 at 18.00 and Wednesday, May 9 at 22.00. You can find more information at www.shortsdocsfest.com