The debut film Mustang by the female Turkish director Ergüven was France’s Oscar entry this year and has won 18 film awards. In this light-hearted family drama about sisterly love and blossoming womanhood, we see the clash between modern ideas and centuries old Turkish traditions.
The sisters Lale, Nur, Ece, Selma and Sonay celebrate the end of their school year by innocently fooling around in the water with some boys. In no time at all, they are accused of bringing shame on their family by their grandmother and strict uncle Erol. They are given virginity tests and locked up at home. Initially, the girls refuse to be intimidated and rebel. This results in some funny scenes, such as when the five of them escape to watch a football match. But then the windows of their prison are barred.
Ergüven contrasts the emancipated city of Istanbul with rural Turkey. The sublime balance between light-hearted moments and drama is one of the film’s strengths, likewise the gifted, natural acting of the young actors.