Snowboarding Dreams Take African From The Tetons To Uganda

Feb 16, 2015

Filmmakers Galen Knowles (L) and Phil Hessler in Jackson Hole before the screening of "Far from Home."
Credit Jennifer Tennican

A new film follows the journey of a snowboarder Brolin Mawejje, on his quest to become the first African Olympic snowboarder. He was born in Uganda and only saw snow for the first time when he came to the U.S. at age 12. He eventually moved to Jackson Hole with a family that took him in as one of their own. Part of what sealed the bond with his adoptive family was a love of snowboarding, which he shared with their son, Phil Hessler.

"You know when we moved to Jackson, we immediately joined the free-ride team here coached under Jeff Moran, began competing all through the Intermountain series and then doing bigger and bigger competitions from there,” said Hessler. "Brolin was able to embed himself in an extremely high level of snowboard community here in Jackson. That really fostered his growth, and all of our growth into the snowboarders we are today."

Hessler became the film's producer. He says the film follows Mawejje as he returns to Uganda, in part to pursue a dream of snowboarding for Uganda in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

"And I was blown away by the support that came around Brolin's mission. I mean we met with the general of the Ugandan Army. Brolin was on almost every TV station in Uganda, on the front page of the newspaper. People were really excited about him snowboarding and being a winter Olympian. There's never been an African country that has had anyone snowboard in the Olympics."

The film, "Far from Home," will be shown in Jackson tonight. You can see a film trailer online at farfromhomemovie.com.