Winner of Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight Europa Cinemas award, Ergüven’s drama centers on a quintet of teenage and pre-teen sisters in a remote seaside town in Turkey. After the girls are accused of “rubbing themselves” against the necks of boys (long story, but the accusation is as ridiculous as it sounds), their scandalized grandmother and uncle lock them in their house and force them to wed as soon as possible. As one of the girls explains in the trailer, “Everything changed in the blink of an eye.” Phones are disconnected, windows shuttered and fences erected. “If you try to marry me off, I’ll scream,” one of the girls threatens before releasing a piercing shriek.
The sisters rebel and attempt to run away, hence the film’s title.
“Mustang,” a French co-production, beat out Palme d’Or winner “Dheepan” to be France’s submission for the Oscars’ Foreign Language Film category. The decision came just a few days after Turkey selected another film, “Sivas,” to be its submission despite “Mustang’s” higher international profile.
“The film grew from my desire to tell what it means to be a girl, a woman, in Turkey today,” Ergüven told Women and Hollywood. She elaborated, “I had an acute feeling of the permanent sexualization of women there. This starts at an early age, just as it happens to the young characters of the film.” Ergüven collaborated on the script for “Mustang” with “Disorder” helmer Alice Winocour. Both features screened at Cannes and TIFF.
“Mustang” will be released by the Cohen Media Group early next year.