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Review: ‘Running Against the Wind’ and into uncertainty

A man pushes a small child in a cart in the movie "Running Against the Wind."
Solomon (Mikias Wolde, left) totes his toddler Fikir (Yemariam Melkamu) in the cart he uses to collect garbage in the Ethiopian/German drama “Running Against the Wind.”
(Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Running Against the Wind” is purportedly based on real events, and it’s sloppy and sort of random enough to be true.

Abdi Getachew (Ferhane Beker) and Solomon Tefera (Alamudin Abduselam) grow up best friends in rural Ethiopa. After Solomon’s father dies, the boys live together as brothers until Solomon steals a camera with a dream of becoming a photographer and runs away at around age 8. Solomon somehow survives on the mean streets of Addis Ababa, falling in with other street kids and eventually becoming a young man (now played by Mikias Wolde) with a wife and unbelievably darling toddler daughter (Yemariam Melkamu). It is, of course, only a matter of time before he gets mixed up with local crime figures.

Meanwhile, Abdi (now played by Ashenafi Nigusu) has become a star runner riding new national fame; he comes to Addis Ababa to try to make it to the Olympics. Their paths cross again; can they still be friends after so much has happened? Will Solomon’s dangerous associations derail both their lives?

The story, directed by Jan Philipp Weyl and written by Weyl and Michael Wogh, is told largely in montages and scenes made of awkwardly brief shots. While a title card tells us the film is “inspired by true events,” it’s hard to find verification of them, or any background for the tale — no matter; where it winds up going isn’t extreme enough to be unbelievable. One character’s final, fateful decision is, to say the least, extremely difficult to understand. In fact, the entire ending sequence raises more questions than it answers.

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'Running Against the Wind'

In Amharic with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Playing: Available July 9 on digital and VOD


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