Three hours outside of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave Hirut grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but ends up shooting her would-be husband. In her village, the practice of abduction into marriage is common and one of Ethiopia's oldest traditions. Meaza Ashenafi, an empowered and tenacious young lawyer, arrives from the city to represent Hirut and argue that she acted in self-defense. Meaza boldly embarks on a collision course between enforcing civil authority and abiding by customary law, risking the continuing work of her women's legal-aid practice to save Hirut's life.
, Quest for identity
, Making mistakes
Year of production
Articles and Reviews
"One of "Difret's" strengths is the care it takes to present many of Ethiopia's traditions in a respectful way. One of the film's key scenes...
"One of "Difret's" strengths is the care it takes to present many of Ethiopia's traditions in a respectful way. One of the film's key scenes shows the village assembly in Hirut's area carefully debating her case, and when Meaza attempts to leave a meeting with Hirut's parents without staying for a meal, she is brought up short by a mother who insists, "you must not forget our culture."
Also complex is the personality of Hirut, who turns out to be a young person with strong and definite ideas of her own that do not always jibe with the lawyer's.
Though the outcome of this case helped change the law in Ethiopia, the reality on the ground still has not been transformed in all areas, and that is what filmmaker Mehari hopes will happen when "Difret" screens in Ethiopia.
"The cycle has to break at some point," he said at Sundance. "What you have to do is educate. I hope this film will go a long way toward changing thinking." It's hard to imagine a film this persuasive doing otherwise."