Ethiopia 2008. Far from the modern western world, two twelve-year old boys are bound by a strong friendship. The boys grow up together in the small village of Ganda Abdi, until one day both their friendship and their attitude towards life are dramatically changed by one single photograph. They start to go their separate ways as Emra leaves his village to find a camera in Addis Ababa. Dabo continues to live in the village and pursues his dream of becoming a successful marathon runner. At age 18, Dabo is preselected for the Ethiopian national marathon team and moves to the capital city where his friend Emra had arrived several years earlier to seek his fortune. Dabo learns that Emra, who was believed dead, had become a street child in Addis Ababa. He begins to search for Emra. During this search the audience is immersed in a world determined by the quest for true friendship, inner strength and the meaning of one’s own destiny.

“EMRA & DABO” is the story of a friendship, and an optimistic and authentic movie inspired by true events. It shows in a socio - critical manner that anything is possible when nothing is sure.




  • International motion picture
  • Genre:  Adventure / Drama
  • Length:  110 minutes
  • Language:  Amharic and Oromiffa (national languages of Ethiopia)
  •                     German and English language versions
  • Rated:  PG-13 (desired)
  • Location:  Ethiopia
  • Completion:  January 2017



The story of "EMRA & DABO" is also the story of Jan Philipp Weyl. As the result of his volunteer work for the foundation “Menschen für Menschen - Karlheinz Böhms Äthiopienhilfe” (Humans for Humans - Karlheinz Böhm’s initiative to help people in need in Ethiopia), Jan Philipp was personally invited by Mr. Böhm in 2005 to accompany him on a twelve-day trip to Ethiopia to check on development projects. Jan’s impressions during his stay in Ethiopia were so intense that he felt the need to capture them in the script for this film “EMRA & DABO”. Completely captivated by the country, Jan traveled back to Ethiopia in 2008 to continue working on his script. He initially planned to stay for 7 weeks but did not return until 9 months later.

“Much of the film script reflects my own experiences which I implemented in the most authentic way possible. Several years ago, I was just a man from the western world who took pictures of two village boys of Ganda Abdi and showed them these pictures on the display of my camera. It was incredible to see how amazed they both were when they first recognized each other and only then themselves in the picture. Their fascination and enthusiasm for the “magic” of their own image was simply indescribable. Both boys made an impression on me that has captivated me ever since, and so the idea of the movie “EMRA & DABO” was born.”

Many more lasting impressions followed: Jan learned the official language Amharic, lived on the streets of Addis Ababa together with children and adolescents for four weeks and in the simple mud huts of Emra and Dabo’s village Gand Abdi for two weeks. He trained together with professional marathon runners and spoke with them about their enthusiasm for this sport, especially about their hopes and dreams for an international career. During this trip he also met “Tsegi”, his future wife.

The movie is about that particular moment when the village children pose in front of this camera. His “western world device” shows them something they have never seen before: their own image. From this experience, Jan became a screenplay writer and movie director, and two children from Ganda Abdi and other locals became actors in “EMRA & DABO”.

“With this movie I’d like to show that regardless of location and social circumstances, one of the most important human duties is to pursue a goal or ideal. Those who strive to achieve these goals or ideals with alltheir strength and courage will be able to experience their personal successes. If I don’t have a dream for which I am determined to do my utmost, is there really anything to live for?”


Filmmaker Roman Toulany also discovered the uniqueness of this project and of everyone involved. The engagement and willingness of all participants to create a movie based on the story of EMRA & DABO inspired him create a documentary from its very beginnings in Ethiopia.