Original Release: January 18, 2014 (Sundance Film Festival) (US)
Directed by: Zeresenay Mehari
Written by: Zeresenay Mehari
Produced by: Leelai Demoz, Mehret Mandefro, Zeresenay Mehari, Angelina Jolie
Running Time: 99 minutes
Box Office: $38,449 (US)

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.

Cast & Characters

Meron Getnet (Meaza Ashenafi), Tizita Hagere (Hirut Assefa), Abel Abebe (Militia Man), Shitaye Abraha (Etaferaw Teshagen), Genene Alemu (Dr. Tamrat), Semahegn Alemu (Customary Judge), Teferi Alemu (Village Judge), Deribwork Assefa (Mrs. Belaynesh), Haregewine Assefa (Membere Yohannes), Hiwot Assefa (Emmet - the secretary), Yohannes Bela (Alemu), Mehret Belete (Militia Man), Getachew Debalke (Mr. Hiruy), Yeneneh Engedawok (Village Teacher), Tewodros Jembere (Customary Judge), Kiya Kennha (Aregash Assefa), Tesfaye Kinfe (Alemayehu), Mekonen Laeake (Assefa Bekele), Brook Sheferaw (Assistant D.A.), Solomon Teka (Mr. Zenebe), Meaza Tekle (Mrs. Mulu Assefa), Mickey Tesfaye (Officer Getachew), Girma Teshome (Tadele Kebede), Rahel Teshome (Mrs. Elifnesh), Amaha Tewedaye (Customary Judge), Kal Thestome (Aster), Feben Yavan (Yordanos), Moges Yohannes (Police Captain Teshone)

Filming Locations:
  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Difret is based on an actual drama that took place in 1996 and whose main protagonist was Aberash Bekale, a young Ethiopian girl.
  • Official submission of Ethiopia to the best foreign language film category of the 87th Academy Awards 2015.
  • Angelina Jolie was an executive producer.

Awards & Nominations

Abu Dhabi Film Festival - New Horizons Competition
Berlin International Film Festival - Fiction Film
Berlin International Film Festival - Best Film
Black Reel Awards - Outstanding Foreign Film
Camerimage - Best Cinematography Debut - Monika Lenczewska
Jeonju Film Festival - International Competition
Jerusalem Film Festival - Best Feature
London Film Festival - First Feature Competition
Oslo Films from the South Festival - Best Feature
San Francisco International Film Festival - New Directors Prize - Zeresenay Mehari
Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema - Dramatic - Zeresenay Mehari
Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema - Dramatic - Monika Lenczewska
Sundance Film Festival - World Cinema - Dramatic - Zeresenay Mehari
Women Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Foreign Film by or About Women
World Cinema Amsterdam - World Cinema Amsterdam Audience Award - Zeresenay Mehari
Zagreb Film Festival - Feature Film