Belfast Film Festival

12th – 21st April 2018

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Mustang

Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven

Opening & Closing

Five young sisters living in a coastal Turkish village on the Black Sea are placed under the tyrannical regime of traditional
morality by their guardians

The feature debut of Turkish filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven is a sensitive and powerful portrait of sisterhood and burgeoning sexuality. After playing around with some boys at the beach they are punished; locked away in their home and forbidden to attend school. But a rebellion is simmering amongst the bold group of sisters. Acclaimed and praised ‘Mustang’is an uplifting film about resistance, sisterhood and empowerment.

In a remote Turkish coastal village on the Black Sea,
five young sisters live under the guardianship of their grandmother and uncle after the deaths of their parents. When a neighbour witnesses the girls innocently playing on the beach, she reports this “scandalous” behaviour to their guardians, who institute a tyrannical regime of both physical and emotional imprisonment. All “instruments of corruption” and pop-culture artifacts are removed from the house, girly outfits are replaced with formless brown dresses, and, following a brief escape to an all-female soccer match, bars are installed on the windows and gates erected at the home’s entrance. As the eldest sisters are subjected to virginity tests and married off one by one, the younger sisters look on in fear and resolve not to succumb to the same fate.

What they said

Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s brilliant, affecting Academy Award-nominated drama, loosely based on her own upbringing, initially resembles The Virgin Suicides only to swerve into nail-biting thriller terrain.
Mustang has successfully rowdy comedic moments, an earthy non-exploitive sensuality, often clever visual framing, and even a hard-won scrappy optimism to balance out its tough reality checks. In short: it’s excellent.