Running Against the Wind
The lives of two young men are changed forever when a photographer arrives at their small Ethiopian village. The first, Solomon (Mikias Wolde), becomes instantly enraptured by photography and desires nothing more than to pursue the career himself. The second, Abdi (Ashenafi Nigusu), dreams of becoming a runner and of representing their country on a global stage. Both are driven to chase their own hopes: the former runs away to the sprawling capital Addis Ababa with a stolen camera around his neck, while the latter remains at home to train. Ten years on and the young athlete is on the verge of fulfilling his aspirations, whereas his childhood friend has been led into the clutches of the city’s criminal underworld. However, their paths are set to cross once again.
As this lengthy synopsis suggests, director and co-writer Jan Philipp Weyl’s Running Against the Wind has a lot going on. It’s essentially a story of two fantasists’ contrasting experiences highlighting the divide between the rich and the poor – one must steal to provide for his young family and the other appears on TV.
The strongest asset of Weyl’s debut is the loving tale of friendship, through which the actors showcase their promising fresh talent. Unfortunately, the filmmaker tries to run before learning to walk by cramming too much into an already weighty script and watering down the emotional core until it becomes diluted fluff.
By the time the pair have been reunited in the second half, in-depth plotlines for each friend have already been established and the script isn’t sure what to do with their dangling narrative threads. Until the climax, that is, when a minor character is re-introduced for the sake of dramatic tension. This comes across as forced and the confrontation plays out more like a comedy.
As their story progresses, the promising bond between the two boys becomes overshadowed by everything happening around them and the emotional connection between the characters and viewers gradually erodes until nothing remains.
Running Against the Wind is released digitally on demand on 11th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Running Against the Wind here: