Town of Runners

Three young runners come from the Ethiopian rural town of Bekoji, home to current Olympic and World Champions.

Film Signature Image
Global Voices, Women of the World
Premiere Date
June 17, 2012
90 minutes
Funding Initiative

Jerry Rothwell

Jerry Rothwell is a documentary filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature docs, Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, Donor Unknown about a sperm donor and his many offspring and Deep Water, co-directed with Louise Osmond, about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world Show more yacht race. His past credits include The Late George Shaw, for Channel 4’s Art Show series, the Modern Painters series of short films for Channel 4 and TV and radio programmes for BBC, Carlton, Channel 4, Teachers TV, and the Arts Council. Another strand of Jerry's work has been participatory production, working with people to tell their own stories on film. He played in lead role in developing Hi8us Projects improvised dramas with young people for Channel 4, in establishing First Light, the UK Film Council's scheme for young filmmakers, and in setting up digital storytelling exchanges between marginalised communities across Europe. His latest film is Town of Runners, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. Show less


Al Morrow

Al Morrow is an award-winning producer and Head of Documentary at Met Film Production. She produced the feature documentary Deep Water (Pathe, UKFC, FilmFour), winner of the Grierson award for Best Cinema Documentary 2007; and Jerry Rothwell's Heavy Load (IFCtv, ITV, BBC), which won the Audience Award at the Britdoc Festival in 2008 and the inaugural CDN Show more Cultural Diversity Award for Excellence in Creative Output in 2009. She is in production on Jerry's upcoming feature documentaries Donor 150 (More 4, Arte, NRK), and Town of Runners (Britdoc Channel 4 Foundation, Digital Rights Group). She is in active development on a wide range of projects including Jeanie Finlay's, The Great Hip Hop Hoax (BBC Scotland) and Jerry's How to Change the World, which is being developed through the UK Film Council. Show less


Daniel Demissie

Dan Demissieis a young Ethiopian producer who bought the Town of Runners to Met Film Production. He has experience working at a number of production companies as a script reader and editor. Born and bred in the UK, both of Dan's parents are from Ethiopia and almost all of his family still lives in Addis Ababa.

Executive Producer

Jonny Persey

Jonny Persey is an independent film producer and managing director of Met Film Production. His feature film credits include Deep Water (Pathe, UKFC, FilmFour), Wondrous Oblivion (Momentum), and the documentary The Pied Piper of Hutzovina. Jonny studied at the National Film & Television School where he produced a series of acclaimed short films Show more both through the school and independently. He serves on PACT’s Film Policy Group and is a member of ACE. Jonny is also Director of the Met Film School at Ealing. Show less

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The Film

Long-distance running is a way of life in the Arsi region of Ethiopia. In a country well acquainted with poverty, famine and war, world-beating athletes are a source of intense pride. Many of the world’s greatest runners hail from Bekoji, a small remote town in the Southern Highlands. In the Beijing Olympics, runners from the town won all four golds in the long distance track events–more medals than most industrialized countries.

Town of Runners follows three children from Bekoji keen to follow in their heroes' footsteps, 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 on agriculture the film shows rural young Africans striving to make their own future.