Mustang (film)

This article is about the 2015 Turkish film. For the 1959 Western, see Mustang! (film).

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Produced by Charles Gillibert
Written by
Starring Güneş Şensoy
Doğa Doğuşlu
Elit İşcan
Music by Warren Ellis
  • David Chizallet
  • Ersin Gok
Edited by Mathilde Van de Moortel
Distributed by Ad Vitam[1]
Release dates
  • 19 May 2015 (2015-05-19) (Cannes)[2]
  • 17 June 2015 (2015-06-17) (France)
Running time
97 minutes[3]
  • France
  • Turkey
  • Germany
Language Turkish
Budget $1.3 million[4]
Box office $4.9 million[5]

Mustang is a 2015 internationally co-produced drama film directed by Turkish-French film director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. The film is set in a remote Turkish village and depicts the lives of five young orphaned sisters and challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society.[6] The event that triggers the family backlash against the five sisters at the beginning of the film is based on Ergüven's personal life.[7]

It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival[8][9] where it won the Europa Cinemas Label Award.[10][11] Mustang is the first feature film directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven.[12] It won the 2015 Lux Prize. It was selected to be screened in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.[13] The film won Polish Filmmakers' Association Award for Best Feature Movie at the 33rd Ale Kino! Festival.[14] The film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards.[15] It was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[16] It received nine nominations at the 41st César Awards, and won four, for Best First Feature Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Original Music.[17] Mustang has received widespread critical praise.


The film starts with Lale, the youngest of the five sisters and the protagonist, bidding an emotional farewell at school to her female teacher, who is moving to Istanbul. The sisters decide to walk home instead of taking a van to enjoy the sunny day. Along the way, they play in the water at the beach with their classmates. For one game, they sit on boys' shoulders and try to knock each other off. When they reach home, their grandmother scolds and hits them for their having this kind of bodily contact with boys and thus "pleasuring themselves" with them. Their uncle Erol is equally furious. From then on, the girls are kept from leaving the house, even for school.

The sisters feel stifled in their home as their grandmother tries to make them suitable for marriage. When in public they must now dress in drab, conservative clothing. Instead of attending school, they must stay home, where they are taught how to cook, clean and sew by their female relatives. Even so, the oldest sister, Sonay, sneaks out occasionally to meet her lover, and Lale looks for various ways to escape.

Lale, who loves football, is forbidden from attending Trabzonspor matches. She resolves to go to a match from which men have been banned due to hooliganism. A friend tells her that the girls in the village are going together on a bus. The sisters, who are happy for an opportunity to leave the house, sneak out of the house with Lale. When they miss the bus, they hitch a ride with a passing truck driver, Yasin, who helps them catch up to it. They’re ecstatic in the exuberant atmosphere of the all-female crowd cheering for their team. Back home, their aunt catches a glimpse of them at the match on TV, just as their uncle and other village men are about to tune in. To prevent the men from finding out, she cuts the house's, and then the whole village's, electricity.

When the girls return, their grandmother decides to start marrying the sisters off. They’re taken to town, ostensibly "to get lemonade", which is actually an opportunity to show them off to potential suitors. Soon enough, a suitor and his family arrive to meet them. Sonay vows to only marry her lover and refuses to meet the prospective suitor and his family. Selma is sent instead and becomes engaged. Sonay gets engaged a short while later to her lover. At the two sisters' joint wedding, Sonay is clearly happy while Selma is not. On the night of her wedding, Selma's in-laws come to view the bed sheets in a traditional ritual to establish that Selma was a virgin before her wedding night. Because there is no blood on the sheet, her in-laws take her to a physician to have her virginity tested.

Next in line for marriage is Ece. It’s revealed that her uncle is sexually abusing her at night. In Lale’s words, she starts acting “dangerously.” When the three remaining girls stop with their uncle near a bank, Ece allows a boy to have sexual contact with her in their car. She makes jokes at the lunch table, inciting loud laughs from her sisters, and is told to go to her room, where she shoots herself and dies. The surviving sisters and their family attend the funeral.

Now it is just the two youngest sisters, Nur and Lale, at home. Lale continues sneaking out. On one impulsive attempt to walk to Istanbul alone she is encountered by Yasin, the truck driver, who is kind to her. At Lale's request, he later teaches her how to drive. When she is caught on the way back into her house, the house is again reinforced to try to make it impossible for them to leave.

It becomes evident that the uncle starts abusing Nur as well and that their grandmother knows about it. She says that now it is time for her to be married off. Though she is young, she is found a suitor and engaged to be married. On the night of Nur's wedding, Lale convinces her to resist, and the girls bar themselves inside the house while the whole wedding party is outside, much to the embarrassment of their family. As the wedding party disperses, their uncle violently tries to get inside. Lale finds the phone hidden in a cupboard and plugs it in to call Yasin for help. The girls gather up money and a few supplies, grab the uncle's car keys, and sneak out of the house. They manage to escape in the car, crashing it close to their house. They hide and wait for Yasin, who picks them up and takes them to the local bus station. The girls take the bus to Istanbul, where they find their former teacher, who greets them warmly.



Mustang has received widespread acclaim from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 97%, based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 8.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Mustang delivers a bracing — and thoroughly timely — message whose power is further bolstered by the efforts of a stellar ensemble cast."[18] Metacritic reports a score of 83 out of 100, based on 28 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[19]


Award / Film Festival Category Recipients and nominees Result
Academy Awards[20] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association[21] Best Foreign-Language Film Nominated
Best First Film Nominated
Belgian Film Critics Association[22] Grand Prix Nominated
Cannes Film Festival[8] Europa Cinemas Label Won
Caméra d'Or Deniz Gamze Ergüven Nominated
Queer Palm Nominated
César Awards[23] Best Film Nominated
Best Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour Won
Best First Feature Film Won
Best Cinematography David Chizallet and Ersin Gök Nominated
Best Editing Mathilde Van de Moortel Won
Best Sound Ibrahim Gök, Damien Guillaume and Olivier Goinard Nominated
Best Original Music Warren Ellis Won
Best Costume Design Selin Sözen Nominated
Critics' Choice Awards[24] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association[25] Best Foreign Language Film 4th place
European Film Awards[26] European Film Nominated
European Discovery of the Year Won
Florida Film Critics Circle[27] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[28] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Goya Awards[29][30] Best European Film Won
Independent Spirit Awards[31] Best International Film Nominated
Louis Delluc Prize[32] Best First Film Nominated
Lumières Awards[33] Best Film Won
Most Promising Actress Güneş Nezihe Şensoy, Doğa Zeynep Doğuşlu, Elit Işcan,
Tuğba Sunguroğlu and Ilayda Akdoğan
Best First Film Won
Best Screenplay Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour Nominated
Best Cinematography David Chizallet Won
Best Music Warren Ellis Nominated
LUX Prize[34] Won
Online Film Critics Society[35] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Polish Filmmakers' Association[14] Best Feature Movie Won
Satellite Awards[36] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Stockholm International Film Festival[37] Best Script Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour Won
Trophées du Film français[38] Duo révélation cinéma Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Charles Gillibert Won
Odessa International Film Festival[39] Grand Prix - Golden Duke Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[40] Best Foreign Language Film Nominated

See also


  1. Tartaglione, Nancy. "Directors' Fortnight Winners: 'My Golden Days', 'Mustang', 'Serpent' – Cannes". Deadline. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  2. "Cannes participants Valley of Love and Mustang land in theatres". Cineuropa. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. "Mustang (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  4. "Mustang". JP's Box-Office.
  5. "Mustang". The Numbers.
  6. Hoffman, Jordan. "Mustang review: The Virgin Suicides in Anatolia is a sweet, sad Turkish delight". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  7. "Interview with 'Mustang' director Deniz Gamze Ergüven". Canım Istanbul.
  8. 1 2 "The Directors' Fortnight 2015 selection!". Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  9. Justin Chang (21 April 2015). "Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Unveils 2015 Lineup". Variety. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  10. Rebecca Ford (22 May 2015). "Cannes: 'Embrace of the Serpent' Tops Directors' Fortnight Awards". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  11. Quinzaine des Réalisateurs [Quinzaine] (22 May 2015). "Mention to "The Exquisite Corpus de/by Peter Tscherkassky #quinzaine2015" (Tweet). Retrieved 22 May 2015 via Twitter.
  12. "Mustang: Beş kız kardeşin özgürlük koşusu". T24. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  13. "Sandra Bullock's 'Our Brand Is Crisis,' Robert Redford's 'Truth' to Premiere at Toronto". Variety. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  14. 1 2 "2015 Winners". Ale Kino! International Young Audience Film Festival. Retrieved August 18, 2016.
  15. Ford, Rebecca (14 January 2016). "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  16. Merry, Stephanie; Yahr, Emily. "Golden Globes nominations 2016: Complete list and analysis; Schumer, Stallone nominated; 'Carol' leads with five". Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  17. "Cesar Awards: Philippe Faucon's Drama 'Fatima' Wins Best Film". Variety. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  18. "Mustang". 20 November 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  19. "Mustang". Metacritic. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  20. "Oscar Nominations: The Complete List". 14 January 2016.
  21. "2015 Awards". Austin Film Critics Association. 30 December 2015.
  22. ""Le fils de Saul", Grand Prix de l'Union de la Critique de Cinéma" (in French). RTBF. January 10, 2016. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  23. "'Golden Years,' 'Marguerite,' 'Dheepan,' 'Mustang' Lead Cesar Nominations". Variety.
  24. "Critics' Choice Movie Awards". Critics' Choice Awards. 15 December 2015.
  25. "Dallas-fort Worth Film Critics Name "spotlight" Best Picture Of 2015". Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association. 15 December 2015.
  26. "European Film Awards Winners 2015: Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth' Scoops Best Film, Director & Actor For Michael Caine". Deadline.
  27. "'Carol' leads 2015 Florida Film Critics Circle Awards Nominations". Florida Film Critics Circle. 22 December 2015.
  28. "'Carol,' Netflix Lead Golden Globes Nomination". Variety. 10 December 2015.
  29. "Premios Goya 30 - Los nominados". Academia de Cine.
  30. "'The Bride' Leads Spain's Goya Award Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  31. "'Carol,' 'Spotlight,' 'Beasts of No Nation' Lead Spirit Awards Nominations". Film Independent. 24 November 2015.
  32. "Philippe Faucon's 'Fatima' Wins Louis Delluc Prize for Best French Film". Variety. 16 December 2015.
  33. "Prix Lumières 2016 : Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse et Mustang en tête des nominations". AlloCiné. 4 January 2016.
  34. "Mustang is the winner of this year's LUX Film Prize". European Parliament.
  35. "2015 Awards (19th Annual)". Online Film Critics Society. Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  36. "Satellite Awards Nominees Unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. 1 December 2015.
  37. "Stockholm Film Festival Announces 2015 Award Winners". Stockholm Film Festival. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  38. "Palmarès Trophées du Film Français 2016 : la comédie à l'honneur !". AlloCiné.
  39. "Award winners 2015". Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  40. "WAFCS Awards".
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