Ethiopia has made great progress as a nation since the devastating famine and civil war of the 1980s, but as recently as the 1990s, women in that country were susceptible to unspeakable violence disguised as custom. In Difret, which played at Sundance and opens in theaters on Oct. 23, two Ethiopian women fight back against the practice of telefa, the accepted abduction and rape of teenage girls as long as the man marries his victim.
Based on a true story, Difret was the passion project of Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. It tells the story of a 14-year-old (Tizita Hagere) who defends herself against her abductor and is sentenced to death when she kills him. A female lawyer (Meron Getnet) takes her case, pitting generations of tradition against the future of equal rights in her country. Mehari turned down opportunities to get his film made abroad, in English, because he was determined to film it in Ethiopia, in Amharic, so that his countrymen and women could see and relate to the story.
“Difret not only shows the tenacity and strength of two remarkable Ethiopian women and brings the world’s attention rightfully to these two real-life heroes, but it also shows the extraordinary talent and creativity of Ethiopian filmmakers,” says Angelina Jolie, who became an executive producer prior to Sundance, where the film won an Audience Award. “I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
EW has the exclusive trailer above.
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