Five teenage girls with hair flying away as they ride in the back of a truck in the sunset. Five pairs of legs intertwined as their owners giggle and tell stories on their bedroom floor. An imprisonment. An escape.

For her first feature-length film, director Deniz Gamze Erguven chose a very serious subject played out by fresh new faces. It was no easy task to co-produce Mustang. Erguven thought that she would encounter resistance on the Turkish side, given the subject matter: the resurgence of conservatism in the government and its repercussions on the female Turkish population. But difficulties arose when, three weeks before starting to shoot, her French producer left the crew. It was this sense of urgency and passion that carried the movie. The young actresses, four of whom had never acted before, were extremely invested in the story and supported by their parents in this adventure.

At times funny, melancholic and shocking, Mustang depicts the life of five orphan sisters whose worlds are turned upside down after they innocently play at the beach with boys from their school. Their “conduct” is denounced by a neighbor as being indecent and quickly, their grandmother and uncle imprison them in the house and start arranging marriages for all of them. Each sister copes with the situation in a different manner.

Our public was touched by the movie. Tim Jackson, Senior Contributor at ArtsFuse, who joined us for the discussion, saw Mustang as a fable. I thought that the series of events felt a bit contrived in the end, that we didn’t need yet an extra layer of abuse in the last half hour to make the point. We all agreed that the cinematography was beautiful, using a lot of natural light in a remote Turkish landscape, and that the musical score exuded feelings of its own. After our discussion, we retreated to the gallery and enjoyed a reception generously provided by the French and Turkish consulates.

Barbara Bouquegneau

Chief Operating Officer

Much of Barbara's work happens behind the scenes, but you may know her from the monthly Ciné-Club de l'Alliance Française where she screens French language films and leads discussion. As a Belgian, she is passionate about spreading knowledge of the wider Francophone world.

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