Mehari’s biopic of Hirut, a 14-year-old abducted and raped on the basis of rural Ethiopian bride selection traditions, goes way beyond the progress versus primitive argument. The loss of old, atavistic structures weakens community cohesion – and defending Hirut from a murder charge, the young, attractive and enlightened NGO activist concedes her own failure to appreciate these complexities. Mingling dreams, fears and memories with new realities, Mehari weaves a stunning tapestry of society in change.
Difret (Das Mädchen Hirut) | Directed by Zeresenay Mehari (Ethiopia, USA 2014) with Meron Getnet, Tizita Hagere, Rahel Teshome. Starts March 12
Originally published in issue #136, March 2015