TV

'Town of Runners' Premieres on PBS' Global Voices 17 June

The road for the young Ethiopians in Town of Runners is increasingly difficult, even for these gifted athletes, so encouraged by their community.

"Let me show you what we are selling in this shop," says young Biruk Fikadu. The camera turns from what he sees from his family-owned kiosk -- dirt roads, sheep, a pedestrian or two -- to inside, where he points out the matchboxes, biscuits, and avocado oil available for purchase. But this tour of items is just the start: what Biruk most wants is to tell you the story of his town, Bekoji, Ethiopia (pop 18,000), a Town of Runners, as the title of Jerry Rothwell's film has it.

Bekloi, it happens, has produced an unusual number of champion long distance runners, including Olympic gold medalist Derartu Tulu. For years, these runners have been trained by Sentayehu Eshetu. The film, premiering on PBS' Global Voices on 17 June, follows two of his latest protégés, Hawii Megersa and Alemi Tsegaye, two talented teenagers who hope running will help them find a way out of poverty and onto a world stage. Both girls are moved by the runners who have come before them, in particular, Tirunesh Dibaba. "I saw her on TV," says Hawii, "It motivated me to start running," says 14-year-old Hawii and Alemi echoes her friend, "I thought I could run like her."

The film traces their hard work toward that end, the hours they spend training, their neighbors' weeks of work to build a proper track, once Derartu Tulu points out the need. "My dream for this track is that in the future, it's brought up to international standards," he says, "Everyone in this town runs. They'll all be able to make use of it." If such aspirations are grand, the film maintains a local, even personal perspective, beginning with the frame provided by Biruk, and carrying over to some frankly thrilling sequences where the two girls compete in races (during which the camera keeps close on their faces, in a series of breathtaking long-lens shots). You also see their disappointments, as or are assigned to training camps (clubs), apart from Tulu and one another, their positions apparently based more on their family backgrounds as their demonstrated talents. The differences in circumstances can be devastating, owing to improper nutrition, training facilities, even sleeping quarters. The road, as they say, is increasingly difficult, even for these gifted athletes, so encouraged by their community.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image