How Ethiopian film ‘Difret’ is bringing attention to the horrors of child marriage

By Yohana Desta

A Sundance Award-winning Ethiopian film is quietly but powerfully tackling the horrors of child marriage.

Difret (“courage” in Amharic), directed by Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, tells the true story of a 14-year-old girl who is put on trial after shooting and killing a man who abducted and raped her. She teams up with a resilient lawyer, and together they challenge the country’s rural, illegal practice of abducting young girls and marrying them off to older men.

An emotional, beautifully shot legal drama, Difret was so stirring that it caught the attention of Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie. Julie Mehretu, an Ethiopian artist who is also one of the movie’s executive producer, was able to get the film to Jolie via a mutual friend.

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