DIFRET EXPLAINS HOW ETHIOPIA STOPPED BRIDE ABDUCTIONS
DifretAccording to Ethiopian tradition, husbands seize brides after consultation with parents by the macho act of abducting them and having sex with them. But during 1986 in a farming area three hours from Addis Ababa 14-year-old Hirut (played by Tizita Hagere) does not like Tadele (Girma Teshome), the man who wants her, and prefers to get an education to help her family. Regardless, Tadele and his friends swoop down on her one day as she leaves school, and he rapes her and locks her in a compound. But when Tadele goes outside to join his buddies, leaving his rifle behind, she grabs the rifle, tries to escape, is pursued by the men, and then shoots and kills Tadele. Next, she is arrested and charged with murder with the likely prospect of a death sentence, whereupon the Andinet Women Lawyers Association hears of her case, and a lawyer (Meron Getnet) is dispatched from Addis Ababa to represent her. A tribal council meets, and the elder rules that Hirut must be exiled from the area, and her father must pay hefty reparations to the father of the deceased. But the criminal justice system is not accustomed to exonerating females based on the self-defense argument, so the case drags on to such an extent that the justice minister shuts down the association, forcing the lawyer to sue the justice minister. Then the sad story undergoes a reversal, as Ethiopia’s president fires the justice minister, and the lawyer group is able to make a convincing case before the local judge, whereupon rule of law for the first time trumps a traditional sexist custom. A title at the end indicates that Andinet helped 30,000 women from 1985 to 2002, but this is the most important test case. Director Zeresenay Mehari focuses much of the time on how the male-dominated criminal justice system tries to block equal justice for women but soft-pedals the role of the press in creating the pressures to break through tradition. The Political Film Society has nominated Difret as best film exposé and best film on human rights of 2014
. MH

UPDATE ON ARGO
Last year’s Argo is based on a true story with an important gap. Six diplomats, including Robert Anders from the American Embassy in Tehran, somehow got to the Canadian Embassy. But how? The answer is that Somchai (Sam) Sriweawnetr, a Thai chef at the American Embassy, warned them one week in advance that they might become hostages because a takeover was imminent. Using the Thai language, which Iranians could not understand despite their wiretapping, Sam made plans for the six who paid attention to his warning. After staying at Anders’s house one night, Sam arranged to have them housed at the British Embassy, where his wife worked. But the British were nervous about the arrangement, so Somchai found temporary housing one block away. Anders then contacted his friend at the Canadian Embassy, who agreed to take them in. But it was Sam who found a safe route on foot, house by house for several days, until they reached the Canadian Embassy. Sam then hid in Tehran for a year until the hostage crisis was resolved. Later, Senator Paul Tsongas had him rescued, and George H. W. Bush arranged to have Congress make Sam a citizen. Recently, Ben Affleck, who played the CIA agent, apologized to Somchai for a script that did not allow Sam a hero’s role in the film. MH

December 15, 2014

[ Previous Newsletters ] [ Other PFS Publications ]

Age of Uprising
Bethlehem
The Better Angels
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain
Boys of Abu Ghraib
Burning Blue
Camp X-Ray
Cesar Chavez
A Coffee in Berlin
Coldwater
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dear White People
Devil's Knot
Difret
Diplomacy
Divergent
Fort McCoy
Frontera
Fury
Giovanni's Island
The Giver
Ilo Ilo
The Imitation Game
The Immigrant
Interstellar
Kill The Messenger
The Last Sentence
Legends of Oz
The Liberator
Love Is Strange
Lullaby
The Monuments Men
A Most Wanted Man
Night Moves
Omar
Policeman
Pride
The Railway Man
The Retrieval
Rosewater
Siddharth
The Theory of Everything
Transcendence
Walking with the Enemy



NOMINATED FILMS
FOR 2014
(click on a title to read
a PFS review)

DEMOCRACY
Cesar Chavez

EXPOSÉ
Bethlehem
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain
Cesar Chavez
Coldwater
Difret
Giovanni's Island
The Imitation Game
The Last Sentence
The Monuments Men
Omar
Pride
The Railway Man
Rosewater
Siddharth
Walking with the Enemy

HUMAN RIGHTS
Bethlehem
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain
Camp X-Ray
Cesar Chavez
Coldwater
Devil's Knot
Difret
Giovanni's Island
The Imitation Game
The Monuments Men
Pride
The Railway Man
Rosewater
Siddharth
Walking with the Enemy

PEACE
Cesar Chavez
Diplomacy
Giovanni's Island
The Railway Man

Click here to nominate a film






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