8 May, 2015 - Angelina Jolie’s confronting Ethiopian film a clarion call for girls

Plan International CEO Susanne Legena is available for grabs, interviews, etc. To arrange, please call Fay Daoud on 0403 293 993. The trailer, clips and stills are also available, see below.

Produced by Angelina Jolie, the internationally acclaimed Ethiopian film Difret will premiere on May 11 at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Melbourne. The film’s premiere is presented by Plan, which campaigns for the rights of girls around the world.

Based on a true story, the award-winning drama tells the story of a 14-year-old Ethiopian girl violently abducted for a forced marriage. She grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but shoots her kidnapper. An empowered and tenacious young lawyer arrives from the city to represent her and save her life, embarking on a collision course between enforcing civil authority and abiding by customary law.

The film has won awards and accolades at prestigious film festivals like Sundance and Berlin, but has caused controversy at home: its recent premiere in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa was shut down by the government.

“Difret is a shocking and harrowing film because it confronts some very serious and real issues that affect not just Ethiopia but too many parts of the developing world,” says Plan International Australia Deputy CEO Susanne Legena. “One of those issues is child marriage, a practice that is all too common in countries like Ethiopia.”

“Girls who are forced to marry young are usually denied an education, denying them the opportunities in life that so many of us take for granted. And there is a grave health danger as well, as so many child brides fall pregnant long before their bodies are ready – one of the leading causes of death of girls in the developing world,” Legena says.

“But this powerful film confronts so many other issues that face girls: frightening violence and attitudes in their society which robs them of their rights to realise their potential and live happy and rewarding lives.”

“I urge everyone to see this film and then reflect on what you can do to support girls and make a real difference in their lives. We all have the power to change the lives of girls – we can do so much more than just watch the film and sympathise,” she says.

“Plan International works across the developing world championing and supporting the rights of girls to education and a life without the threat of forced marriage or violence.”

“One of the most effective and powerful ways to support girls in the developing world is through child sponsorship. As a sponsor, you can support a girl, her family and her community as they forge a path out of poverty and towards the prosperity we take for granted.”

Says Angelina Jolie: “This film is a strong moment for art in Ethiopia. It is a story that gives hope for Ethiopia’s future, and for other countries where countless girls grow up without the protection of laws that shield them and their bodies.”

To sponsor a child in Ethiopia or elsewhere in the developing world, visit plan.org.au or ring 13 75 26.

Watch Angelina Jolie’s introduction to Difret here: youtu.be/j89Ae4zd6vA

Watch the trailer for Difret on YouTube here: youtu.be/7FEJwRizHqo

Click here to download a broadcast quality version of the trailer: bit.ly/difretplan. Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Fay Daoud, Plan International Australia, Communications Manager, 0403 293 993