The world’s best long-distance runners hail from one small town in Ethiopia. See how they do it!


Filmmakers: Jerry Rothwell
Year: 2012
Runtime: 86 mins
Country: UK
Format: HD


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

TOWN OF RUNNERS is a feature documentary by an award-winning director Jerry Rothwell (Donor Unknown, Heavy Load) about the young athletes born and raised in Bekoji, who hope to emulate their local heroes and compete on the world’s stage. Filmed over four years, the film follows their fortunes as they move from school track to national competition and from childhood to adulthood.


Tribeca Film Festival, USA - World Premiere

Docville IFF, Belgium - EU Premiere

Little Rock Film Festival, USA

Sheffield Doc/Fest, UK

EBS International Documentary Film Festival, South Korea


Jerry is a documentary filmmaker whose previous directing credits include the feature documentaries Heavy Load (2008, winner of the Audience Award at Britdoc) and Deep Water (2006, co-directed with Louise Osmond), winner of the Grierson Award and Best Documentary at Rome Film Festival. He has recently completed Donor Unknown (2010) which won the Audience Award at Silverdocs and the Online Award at Tribeca Film Festival, before its US broadcast on PBS and UK on More 4.. Jerry is in development on the feature doc How To Change The World, for Met Film. Directing credits prior to this included The Late George Shaw, a half hour film for Channel 4’s Art Show Series, two short films in the Modern Painters series for Channel 4 and Fact Plus Fiction a 30 min documentary for the Arts Council/Channel 4. Another strand of Jerry’s work has been participatory and interactive production. He played in lead role in developing Hi8us’ Projects improvised dramas with young people for Channel 4 and in establishing First Light, the UK Film Council’s scheme for young filmmakers which has supported over 1000 films.


Director: Jerry Rothwell

Producer: Dan Demissie and Al Morrow

Executive producers: Kristin Ólafsdóttir, Jonny Persey and Jo Fifer

Co-Producer: Stewart Le Maréchal

Editor: Alan Mackay

Music: Mulatu Astatke

Composer: Vincent Watts