International film: Mustang (2015)

For this weeks International Film, Life & Style Editor Nimra Rafique looks at Mustang (2015).

Nimra Rafique
3rd November 2019
Image: IMDB
With multiple nominations and wins, including winning in the Label Europa Cinemas category at the Cannes Film Festival 2015, as well as much critical praise, it’s no surprise Mustang (2015) received an increasing amount of attention. The film had celebrities and the general public talking on social media, which is how I first came to know about it. I was immediately intrigued by the films gripping and heartfelt plot, and was incredibly impressed that such a work was being represented in mainstream media.

It was co-written and directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, who took influence from her own experiences to write the powerful story, a one which she believed was vital to share. The film follows five sisters living in a small village in Northern Turkey. After what was a seemingly innocent encounter with their male classmates, the girls are confined and shut out from the outside world, living with their abusive uncle and forcefully being married off. The combination of the film’s melancholy plotline and juxtaposing beautiful cinematography makes the film incredibly captivating, a combination which the girls themselves perfectly embody. This film represents the true, tragic experience of the sisters whilst also beautifully presenting them as free-spirited, strong and courageous.

It is a representation of change, advocating female empowerment and strength.

Ergüven herself also shows her courage, which I truly admire, as she wasn’t afraid to expose such an authentic and sincere story, despite possibility of controversy. She believed it was a story worth telling, a story of youth, sisterhood and courage, with feminist connotations. Although the film has a very particular setting and representation, I think the underlying message is one that will resonate with many people, which is what makes it so powerful.

The ending of the film gives a sense of hope, but not your cliché happy ending. Rather, it is a representation of change, advocating female empowerment and strength. The Telegraph called Mustang ‘a powerful, uplifting, portrait of defiance’, which is conveyed through the girl’s brave and persistent attitude throughout the film.

It is amazing when such powerful international films get global recognition, and can touch a wider audience, making people more aware of issues that occur around the world.

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