This article examines locally produced Ethiopian movies in the context of its industrial policy and globalization between the years 2002 and 2018. It contributes to the somewhat new scholarly conversation on Ethiopian cinema by analyzing how filmmakers have engaged in dialogue with government policy through the medium of popular cinema in response to rapidly changing socioeconomic conditions. Representatives of Ethiopia's government have participated in highly public international debates about the position of African nations in general, and Ethiopia's "activist developmental state" in particular, within the global economy. This article analyzes Ethiopian cinema in relation to those debates with focused close readings of two movies that were exceptionally popular in Ethiopian movie theaters: Rebuni (dir. Kidist Yilma, 2015) and YeWendoch Guday (dir. Henok Ayele, 2007). In doing so, it compares and contrasts the study of Ethiopia's movie industry with the study of other African cinemas to suggest an alternative economic context and model for the analysis of its cinema.