French-Turkish film ‘Mustang’ hits theaters
ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency
‘Mustang’ portrays five teenage girls who live in a conservative household in northern Turkey.Already seen by close to half a million people in France, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s eagerly anticipated debut film, “Mustang,” premiered in Turkey on Oct. 23 following high praise on the festival circuit.
The Turkish-French film director was at Istanbul’s Beyoğlu Theater on Oct. 21 for a screening of the film, which premiered in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight section and won the Europe Cinemas Label Award.
Deniz Gamze Ergüven
“I do not want to define [my film] in any political structure, but feminism aims for the equality for women, so there [is feminism] in the film,” said Ergüven.
“You don’t see brave, strong female characters in cinema,” she said. “We look to the world through men’s eyes in the history of cinema.”
A group of around 300 people, including the cast’s relatives, watched the film, which had already been seen by more than 450,000 people, in France alone, according to the film’s PR company.
France has submitted “Mustang,” a joint French-German-Turkish production, for an Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category this year.
“Mustang” hit Turkish theaters on Oct. 23 while it will be shown in the United States on Nov. 20.
The 36-year-old director studied history-literature and African history before graduating from one of France’s most prestigious film schools, the Femis, of which film masters such as the Greek-French Costa Gavras and Greece’s Theo Angelopoulos are also alumni.
The Ankara-born filmmaker moved to France when she was 1 year old but did not lose her connection with her home country.
“I have two cultures and two nationalities,” she said. “I am told ‘you are not French’ in France and ‘you are not Turkish’ in Turkey. This [movie] is my perspective; it is neither Turkish nor French.”
Speaking after the screening, Ergüven said she saw the five girls as “a little monster of womanhood with their five heads, 10 legs and 10 arms and one body.”
The film starts with the narration of the youngest girl, Lale, who is played by Güneş Nazihe Şensoy, 14:
“Everything changed in a blink of an eye,” she says at the beginning of the movie and tells the story of how five sisters swimming with boys in the sea on the last day of school would forever change their lives and turn their house into a prison.
As for most of the cast, this is Şensoy’s first film. She was chosen after an audition.
“Lale is a headstrong girl just like all the other girls in the film,” she said.
Another actress in the film is Elit İşcan, 21, who is well known by Turkish audiences for her roles in movies by Turkish auteur Reha Erdem.
“[Deniz] saw me in one of Reha’s films and contacted me,” she said.
“This is the first time I’ve worked with a woman director,” she added. “Deniz is a powerful, headstrong woman who knows what she wants.”
When asked about the possible Oscar nomination, İşcan said: “I knew the film would be successful, I didn’t expect that much.”
“I am superstitious; that’s why I just can’t speak about this,” said Ergüven.