This month’s Minicine at The Mills screening marked the start of our latest film season There’s No ‘I’ In Team Season. Once again, The Palace Picturehouse at Armley Mills Industrial Museum was sold out and it was great to see so many members of local running groups along with regular faces turn out for what proved to be a great night topped off with a feature presentation of Jerry Rothwell’s Town of Runners. Jerry was kind enough to pre-record an intro especially for the screening which provided our audience with greater context before the film began.
Thanks also go to Noisette Bakehouse who concocted their own version of the classic Marathon bar – a much prettier version – that proved to be yet another hit with the audience.
The themes of globalisation, ineffective governance and agriculture seem a world away when considering a film about running and chasing a dream. ‘Town of Runners’ is much more than a film about running, though. Yes, there are some expected references to bespoke training patterns, altitude and diet. The storyline uses the central theme of running to illuminate broader issues of education and sustainable development.
The two main characters – both female – and their community are filmed over a three year period. This allows the viewer to develop intrigue and be part of the challenges and disappointments that face old and young in a rural, Ethiopian town. Likewise, the conflict between hope and frustration enables the audience to feel part of the experience: Indeed, a relationship is quickly formed with the very effective, sometimes prickly, and always unorthodox, athletics coach. Impressively, details are presented without unnecessary stereotypes or enforced judgement.
Although the cinematography of landscape and culture is colourful and diverse, the build-up to key race events is nonetheless pedestrian and the context sometimes confusing. Moreover, the staged jeopardy in the final, competitive setting may leave some with a sense of disbelief in the overall struggle.
On the whole, ‘Town of Runners’ is worthy of a podium place, but not the gold medal: the film successfully presents an alternative narrative to the desires of a developing country, while consolidating the mystic as to why East African nations continue to dominate at endurance running.
– Neil Wallace, audience member
Town of Runners (2012) dir. Jerry Rothwell – 4.55
Trail Climbs Sharply dir. Ian MacLellan – 3.19
Still/Running dir. Wayne de Lange and Sven Harding – 3.90
Full Circle dir. Marjorie Larouche – 2.95
Our next Minicine at The Mills film night takes place Thursday 21 May as There’s No ‘I’ In Team Season continues with the pull-no-punches roller derby doc Hell on Wheels which looks at the resurgence of the sport in 2001 Austin, Texas.
Tickets are only £5 and available now from our online ticket office. As always, there will be short films and cake to accompany the feature presentation. Let’s roll!