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Difret poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
Produced by Mehret Mandefro
Leelai Demoz
Zeresenay Mehari
Written by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
Music by Dave Eggar
David Schommer
Cinematography Monika Lenczewska
Edited by Agnieszka Glinska
Haile Addis Pictures
Truth Aid
Release date
  • 18 January 2014 (2014-01-18) (Sundance)
  • 25 September 2014 (2014-09-25) (Ethiopia)
Running time
99 minutes
Country Ethiopia
Language Amharic
Box office $57,2013[1]

Difret is a 2014 Ethiopian drama film written and directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. The film had its premiere in-competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Cinematic Dramatic Audience Award.[2][3] Angelina Jolie served as the executive producer of the film.[4]

The film later premiered at the 64th Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section,[5][6] where it won the Audience Award.[7] It was selected as the Ethiopian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.[8][9][10]

The title (Amharic: ድፍረት) literally translates as "courage", "audacity",[11] but can also be a euphemism for "the act of being raped."[12]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Film "Difret": Legal Reform and Challenging Tradition in Ethiopia
  • Angelina Jolie recomienda Película DIFRET


Ethiopia is a country with over 19 million population and the country was a long history very rich culture. And unfortunately some of the traditional practices and norms affect women negatively. And the practice of telefa, which is abducting girls for marriage, is one of the harmful practices that affect the physical and mental as well as social economic lives of women in Ethiopia. I heard about the story on the radio. I was in a car with a driver and we were listening to a radio and there was media coverage about 14 years old girl being abducted and raped and killing her would the husband. So as soon as I learned about the story I immediately thought that we should be going to this place, which is 300 km outside of Addis Ababa where we work. And we should be able to defend the girl. I thought about this because I believed that we should save her life because she was facing like a life sentence. And secondary, also I knew that this is going to be a big case, precedent setting case, which we could use for public education to enhance the dialogue and the conversation around abduction around telefa. Such a story is, for some people, especially people living in the West, it's completely outside their experience in that sense it will educate people on how women live in the other part of the world. Secondly, it's also a call to action. I believe educational institutions, woman's rights organizations and government and non-government institutions who's mandate focus on gender equality would like to use this film for advocacy, for legal reform and to sort of enhance an accelerate programs towards especially fighting child marriage around the world. That's my hope. Getting Angelina Jolie was quite helpful the movie, the content, the history, the presentation is fantastic, but her agreeing to be executive producer really took it to another level, to another height and I think that was kind of her. I think this film is quite educational in that sense because it does not necessarily judge the community. It does not necessarily sort of point a finger to the community, it's sort of shows where the thinking comes from. So it sort of makes you to have a conversation with yourself because it makes you – it's not an easy sort of sin because these people they have lived with this tradition for a number of years and that's what they know. That's what they believe. from time to time we need to go back to the drawing board and we need to have some real conversation on why these things are happening. It's not enough to say well it's the culture, well it's a tradition, we need to discuss about, unpack and discuss about why this is happening.



The film chronicles a legal-precedent setting court case that outlawed the kidnapping of child brides (ጠለፈ tʼelefa) in Ethiopia. It tells the story of a 14-year-old girl, Hirut Assefa (based on Aberash Bekele), who is kidnapped on her way home from school and subsequently 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, the founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA), arrives from the city to have her team represent Hirut and argue that she acted in self-defence.



The film was temporarily banned in September 2014 for allegedly giving "too much credit" to Ashenafi, according to a complaint by Bekele, on whose experience the film was based. The case settled out of court and the ban was ultimately lifted. The film's director, Mehari, apologized to Bekele for "any misperception and for any harm that [they] may have caused."[13] The film subsequently enjoyed a successful theatrical run in Ethiopia and kicked off its educational outreach efforts that are focused on raising awareness about the issue of child marriage.[14] Ashenafi's leadership and administration of EWLA during this time is the reason she has received several international human rights awards including the Africa Prize of The Hunger Project for her work defending vulnerable women and children in Ethiopia.[15]


Difret received mixed reviews upon its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Dennis Harvey of Variety, said in his review that "'Difret' presents an important message, albeit in rather clunky narrative terms. More showing and less telling would have made this fact-inspired drama by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari as artistically compelling as it is informative. Still, fests and other outlets attracted to social-justice issues will queue up for this relatively rare export-ready Ethiopian feature."[16] Boyd van Hoeij in his review for The Hollywood Reporter called the film "A quiet and powerful drama, based on a true story, that relies on familiar storytelling tropes."[17] The film has a score of 58% on Metacritic.[18]


Difret wins the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Difret wins the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2014 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Zeresenay Berhane Mehari Nominated
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic Zeresenay Berhane Mehari Won[19][20]
Berlin International Film Festival Panoroma Audience Award Zeresenay Berhane Mehari Won[7]

See also


  1. ^ "Difret". The Numbers. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  2. ^ "Sundance 2014: World Cinema Dramatic Competition". Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  3. ^ "World Cinema Dramatic Competition". Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Sundance 2014: Angelina Jolie Joins Ethiopian Film 'Difret' as Executive Producer". Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Panorama 2014: Selection of Fictional Features for Main Programme and Panorama Special Now Complete". berlinale. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Difret". berlinale. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Panorama 64th Berlinale". Berlinale. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  8. ^ "'Difret' Submitted for Oscar Consideration for Best Foreign Language Film". Tadias. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  9. ^ "83 Countries In Competition For 2014 Foreign Language Film Oscar". AMPAS. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Oscar Attracts Best Foreign Language Film Submissions From a Record 83 Countries". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 October 2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Ban on Difret film lifted  - Ethiopia Observer".
  14. ^ "Difret: Building a Culture of Courage". The Huffington Post.
  15. ^ "Press Release 2008 - Embassy of the United States Addis Ababa, Ethiopia".
  16. ^ "Sundance Film Review: 'Difret'". Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  17. ^ "Difret: Sundance Review". Retrieved 14 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Difret". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Sundance: 'Whiplash' & 'Rich Hill' Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For 'Fishing Without Nets'". Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  20. ^ "'Whiplash' Owns the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Awards Netting Two Top Prizes". Retrieved 26 January 2014.

External links

This page was last edited on 2 November 2018, at 16:16
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