I heard, a few weeks ago, while talking to a friend about the state of Ethiopia, with the conflict escalation in Tigray and they stopped. Turning to me they told me of the film, he called, scrabbling round for a relevant connection, ‘The African SLUMDOG..’. A poor analogy but one that allows films like this to be sold to the Western world (where they can get critical recognition, more funding and bigger box office). The story of two friends who live in a small village as boys, one who loves photos and the other dreams of being a runner like national hero Haile Gabreselassie. Sometimes depicted in a blend of ethnographic journal and (for those looking for it) white saviour complex. I say this because we see most of this through an NGO project to build a school and a young French photo journalist. Not a bad thing and if you are balanced, you can see its a simple narrative rooting tool. Where the boys are exposed to the capital and a world outside the farm, village and small world.

A fair set up and one that defines the future for the two. One is a dreamer with a fixed goal, the other dreams without a fixed position. When the photography loving boy, steals a camera from the French photojournalist and runs off to the big city, he falls into friends on the fringes. The other boy grows to be strong, run hard and fight for success. Here the film splits its logic. The street kid, is stuck in the cycle of love, crime and hardship. Been there, done that. The runner is driven hard, works to improve and powers into the future. Direction or fate. Hope or the fatalism of opportunity. The film lacks a bed for this reason. It wanders. It slip slides along. The good parts are its effective relationship building, framed tenderly and with care. The bad parts are that start and the idea of European exceptionalism. This is something that will jar with the target audience. They will not enjoy this.


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