Oscars: Ethiopia Selects 'Running Against the Wind' for International Feature Film Category

Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie -June 2007 - Getty-H 2019

German director Jan Philipp Weyl's story of the fates of two brothers reveals his love for the African country.

Ethiopia has selected Jan Philipp Weyl's Running Against the Wind as its submission for the best international feature film category at the 2020 Oscars.

The story of two brothers whose lives take very different paths, the film is only the fourth time that Ethiopia has entered the Oscar race.

Described as "a love letter to Ethiopia," the movie is the first film ever submitted to the Academy Awards with the backing of Ethiopia's Ministry of Culture and Tourism; previous entries were the sole responsibility of individual producers and directors working in the country's struggling movie industry.

Weyl — whose other directing credits include Buena Vista Chico, shot in Cuba in 2017, and the upcoming documentary We Are One — focuses on the lives of two brothers, one who dreams of becoming an Olympic runner and the other a photographer.

One remains in the countryside and the other ends up in the slums of Addis Ababa — until, as adults, their paths cross again.

Shot in Ethiopia's native language, Amharic, the film features a cameo by famous local long distance runner and gold medalist, Haile Gebrselassie.

Weyl — who aside from his native German speaks English, Amharic, Spanish and French — has a long association with Ethiopia and, since 2008, has raised more than $110,000 to build two schools in the country.

Running Against the Wind was made using local crews and actors and also employed local musicians for the soundtrack and score.

Ethiopia first submitted a film to the Oscars in 2010, but has never seen a film nominated.

The 92nd Academy Awards take place on Feb. 9, 2020.