Cannes prize-winner Mustang hits theaters in Turkey

Cannes prize-winner MustangCannes prize-winner Mustang hits theaters in Turkey.

Mustang, by Franco-Turkish film director Deniz Gamze Erguven, premiered at 2015 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight.

Franco-Turkish film director Deniz Gamze Erguven was at Istanbul’s Beyoglu Theater on Wednesday for a screening of her first feature movie, the critically acclaimed Mustang.

Premiered in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight section and winner of the Europe Cinemas Label Award, the film portrays five teenage girls who are living in a conservative household in northern Turkey.

“I do not want to define [my film] in any political structure but, feminism aims for equality for women, so there are such things [feminism] in the film,” said Erguven, speaking to Anadolu Agency just before the screening in Istanbul.

“You don’t see brave, strong female characters in cinema,” she added, speaking in Turkish with a slight accent: “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 only, according to the film’s PR company.

France has submitted Mustang — a joint Franco-German-Turkish production — for Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category this year.

Mustang will hit Turkish theaters on Friday while it will be shown in the U.S. 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 one 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,” she added.

Speaking after the screening, Erguven said that 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 Gunes Nazihe Sensoy, 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 the school would forever change their lives and turn their house into a prison.

As for most of the cast, this is Sensoy’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 Iscan, 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 to Anadolu Agency.

“This is a first time I 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, Iscan said: “I knew the film would be successful, I didn’t expect that much.”

“I am superstitious that’s why I can’t just speak about this,” added Erguven.