226) Difret (2014)
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.
8/10 – It’s very difficult to find film reviews where the entire plot isn’t given away. Is that what people want? To explain the entire story-line prior to viewing the film? I’m not so sure, when I give my two cents on a film I try to keep as much of a mystery as possible, quite often the element of surprise it is what makes it worth viewing.
Difret was unique for me for a few reasons, the first is that this is the first film I have sat in where people have continued to turn up 45 minutes late for a screening. The second is that this is also the first film I’ve seen where a single, solitary man gave a film a standing ovation – when nobody from the film were in the cinema. The third is that it is the first Ethiopian film I have seen, and it was surprisingly good. Obviously having Angelina Jolies name attributed to the film as Exec Producer has added to some of the films publicity, but the film should do well in it’s own right as an important tale of womens rights in Africa. This is evidenced by the fact that it won the World Cinema Audience Award Dramatic at Sundance this year.
In terms of it’s content, it tells an important story and one that should quite rightly be told. It is quite shocking at times, and with regards to oppression and the baffling nature of some of the ‘rules’ and ‘traditions’ in place, you could liken the viewing experience to any film associated to slavery. The difference being that those were set over 100 years ago. Tizita Hagere was good as the quiet and timid girl on trial, and Meron Getnet played the passionate lawyer extremely well.
While the above is important, the film is at times a frustrating watch. The narrative jumps about without any indication as to what we are viewing, key scenes are cut off half way through for some bizarre reason and once the case has been established very early on, we are spoon fed the story in a very formulaic and basic fashion.
The message overshadows those aspects though, and with the topic being as important as it is I expect the film to see a much wider release both on the festival circuit but in your independent cinemas.
If you get the chance, give it a watch. Who know’s, maybe you will stand up on your own and clap at a screen for it.