Difret Ethiopia, USA 2014 – 99min.
In Ethiopia, an ambitious young lawyer defends a young girl charged with killing her future husband, who tried to kidnap her to take her as his bride, according to tradition. These two women take on a society that finds itself in transition, with different cultures bumping into one another. By Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, with Angelina Jolie as executive producer.
Based on a true story, this movie offers a look at the culture shock posed by the clash of traditions and modernity. Tizita Hagare plays Hirut, a 14-year-old girl who is kidnapped by a group of men on her way to school – part of a tradition in which a man can choose his bride by force. Hirut kills her future husband as she escapes. Meaza Ashenafi, her lawyer (Meron Getnet), fights prejudice and the patriarchal Ethiopian society in which women have few rights. Without resorting to caricature, Zeresenay Berhane Mehari delivers a harsh portrait of a changing country where young people mix modernity with tradition at great risk. The director lingers over the points of view of each character, representing all of Ethiopia: Hirut’s family; the farmers who don’t know how justice works; the police and the legal system in general. With Angelina Jolie as executive producer, it’s clear why this ode to the feminism got four nominations at the Sundance Film Festival, and those of Berlin, Amsterdam and Montreal. It makes the audience reflect on the human condition and on the cultural and racial differences we all live with.