Yasmine Ziadat | May 12 2016
Mustang is a film which will stay with me for a very long time. I laughed, I gasped, I cried, I clapped; it was an enlightening experience which left me feeling both empowered and heartbroken. Scenes of the five sisters splashing through waves, running down streets, and getting tangled up in each others limbs lingered in my mind for days after seeing it.
First screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Mustang is the creation of Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. This heart breaking tale is a harsh reminder of the life-altering, often fatal, impact that misogyny has on women today. It revolves around the lives of five orphaned and free-spirited sisters, Sonay, Selma, Ece, Nur and Lale, whose burgeoning sexuality is demonised by the conservative society in which they live. When a watchful neighbour accuses the sisters of bringing dishonour to their family, their lives descend into misery. One arranged marriage at a time, the girls fight to stick together as their youngest sister, Lale, plans their great escape.
Mustang also presents poignant portrayals of the complex intergenerational relationships shared between grandmothers and granddaughters. It offers a depiction of sisterhood in its truest form; perfectly capturing the unbreakable bond of love that makes you want to kill each other, yet simultaneously take a bullet for one another.
Many of the themes explored in Mustang hit close to home. It reminded me of the Middle East, and the way in which I regulate my appearance, actions, and words when I am there, but mostly, it reminded of my childhood and the joyful summers that I spent in Jordan growing up. It made me think of my sister, and how she would nag our mama to release me from time-out when I would misbehave, and how we continue to always cover for each other when we’re up to no good.
After wiping my tears away as the credits rolled, I was overcome with an overwhelming sense of grief and gratitude. Mustang made me grateful to my parents who have brought my siblings and I up with open minds and open hearts, and grateful to my Tetas (grandmothers) for showing us how to stuff warak 3inab (vine leaves) and make ma3moul (biscuits) out of a love for our culture, and not as part of some ‘wife factory’. I am grateful for all of the wonderful women who have helped to shape me into the person I am today, and who continue to support me daily. And now, I am grateful to Deniz, for this incredible work of art which demonstrates the real life issues that women around the world have endured and continue to endure today.
The London premier of Mustang is May 13th 2016.
Yasmine Ziadat is an undergraduate history and politics student with an interest in current affairs and sassing the patriarchy. If she’s not taking selfies or watching cat videos, you can find her exploring London in search of coffee, music and museums. You can follow her on instagram, twitter, or read her dardishi articles here.