Project Description

Each year VSAFF screens one film from an African country other than South Africa. This year we present the Ethiopian film Difret, from executive producer Angelina Jolie. Difret is based on the true story of a young Ethiopian girl and a tenacious lawyer embroiled in a clash between cultural traditions and equal rights.

When 14-year-old Hirut is abducted in her rural village’s tradition of kidnapping women for marriage, she fights back. The result is a life and death struggle with traditional law. Meaza, a tough and passionate lawyer from a women’s legal aid practice, steps in to fight for her. With both Hirut’s life and the future of the practice at stake the two women must make their case against one of Ethiopia’s oldest and most deeply-rooted traditions. Difret paints a portrait of a country in a time of great transformation and the brave women ready to help shape it.

Followed by a Skype talkback with producer Dr. Mehret Mandefro

Writer/Director: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari
Producers: Mehret Manfredo, Leelai Demoz, Angelina Jolie, Julie Mehretu, Jessica Rankin, Francesca Zampi, Lacey Schwartz
Run Time: 99 minutes


  • Sundance Film Festival – Audience Award
  • Pan African Film Festival – Best Feature Narrative
  • Festival de Valenciennes – Jury Prize
  • World Cinema Amsterdam Festival – Audience Award

What the critics say…

“…. not only shows the tenacity and strength of two remarkable Ethiopian women, but it also shows the extraordinary talent and creativity of Ethiopian filmmakers.” — Erin Sharoni, Huffington Post

“Difret is painful but profound, skirting the pitfalls of the inspirational biopic for something more grounded and remarkable.” — Monica Castillo, The Village Voice

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