Three hours outside of the city of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl, Hirut, is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave teenager 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. Enter then Meaza Ashenafi, an empowered and tenacious young lawyer. She 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 ongoing work of her women’s legal-aid practice to save Hirut’s life. Based on a real-life story, DIFRET goes beneath the layer of polite social customs to explore an aggressively rooted patriarchy that perpetuates inhospitable conditions for women in Ethiopia and portrays the complexity of a country’s transformation toward equal rights, featuring the courageous generation that dares to own it. Writer / director Zeresenay Berhani Mehari joins us to talk about a story that challenges a culture of inequality.
“A quiet and powerful drama.” Hollywood Reporter
“Deftly examines the issues facing women and girls in Ethiopia.” CNN
“Nuanced and inspiring.” Cultural Weekly