Film

'Difret' + 'Fishing Without Nets' At Sundance

Sundance 2014 features Ethiopian drama 'Difret' and Somali pirate drama told from the perspective of Somali pirates 'Fishing Without Nets.'


Photo from 'Difret'

Sundance recently announced the roster for the 118 feature-length films that will be showing at the festival's 30th edition. Below we take a look at two features of note– Ethiopian filmmaker Zeresenay Berhane Mehari's court drama Difret and a film about Somali pirates told from the perspective of the pirates, Fishing Without Nets.

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Difret

Director and screenwriter: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari

Category: World Cinema Dramatic Competition

In this 1996-set Ethiopian drama based on the true story of the court case that resulted in a law outlawing the tradition (known as "telefa") of abducting young women for marriage in Ethiopia, Meaza Ashenafi is a workaholic and a tireless advocate for women. The founder of an organization that provides free legal aid services to poor women and children, she operates under the government’s radar until one young girl's legal case exposes everything and threatens both her career and survival. 14-year-old Hirut Assefa is abducted by a 29-year-old farmer who intends to marry her. Hirut shoots and kills her abductor with his own rifle in an attempt to escape and return to her parents. Charged with murder by the local police and kept in prison without bail, Hirut faces the death penalty despite claiming her actions were in self-defense. After news of the case spreads throughout Ethiopia, Meaza seeks to represent her in the legal proceedings– thereafter embarking on a long battle to save Hirut’s life. Previously titled Oblivion, Difret makes its world premiere at Sundance. It's worth noting that Difret is the fourth film ever to shoot on 35mm film in Ethiopia; the first to develop in Mumbai; the first Ethiopian film shot by a female DP; and the first Ethiopian film to have almost half of its crew comprised of women.

Update 1/20: According to Hollywood Reporter, humanitarian aid's Angelina Jolie is on board to executive produce.

Update 1/26: Difret is this year's "Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic" winner at Sundance.

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Fishing Without Nets

Director: Cutter Hodierne

Category: U.S. Dramatic Competition

The story of Somali pirates told from the perspective of Somali pirates looks real enough to be a documentary. Originally shot and released as a short film, director Cutter Hodierne's award-winning (Sundance's previous winner of the Grand Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking) drama was picked up by Vice to be re-upped as a feature-length film. The extended version features many of the same actors and remains set during 2009. The original short film is available on iTunes.

Update 1/26: Fishing Without Nets director Cutter Hodierne is this year's "Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic" winner!

Interview

Sarkodie Is Not Feeling Any Pressure

The elite Ghanaian rapper affirms his king status with this seventh studio album, No Pressure.

Sarkodie is one of the most successful African rappers of all time. With over ten years of industry presence under his belt, there's no question about his prowess or skin in the game. Not only is he a pioneer of African hip-hop, he's also the most decorated African rapper, having received over 100 awards from close to 200 nominations over the span of his career.

What else does Sarkodie have to prove? For someone who has reached and stayed at the pinnacle of hip-hop for more than a decade, he's done it all. But despite that, he's still embracing new growth. One can tell just by listening to his latest album, No Pressure, Sarkodie's seventh studio album, and the follow-up to 2019's Black Love which brought us some of the Ghanaian star's best music so far. King Sark may be as big as it gets, but the scope of his music is still evolving.

Sonically, No Pressure is predominantly hip-hop, with the first ten tracks offering different blends of rap topped off with a handful of afrobeats and, finally, being crowned at the end with a gospel hip-hop cut featuring Ghanaian singer MOG. As far as the features go, Sark is known for collaborating mostly with his African peers but this time around he branches out further to feature a number of guests from around the world. Wale, Vic Mensa, and Giggs, the crème de la crème of rap in America and the UK respectively all make appearances, as well as Nigeria's Oxlade, South Africa's Cassper Nyovest, and his fellow Ghanaian artists Darkovibes and Kwesi Arthur.

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