Many people avoid foreign films because they don’t want to read subtitles, but you might consider making an exception for MUSTANG, one of the nominees for this year’s Best Foreign film OSCAR.
“MUSTANG” was written and directed by a Turkish woman and it has nothing to do with horses.
Instead, it focuses on five orphaned sisters who rebel against their country’s patriarchal system that believes all women should be trained to become wives and mothers and nothing else.
It’s a smart, entertaining drama that shows how tough it still is for many young woman in the Middle East to make their own choices and live their own lives.
When we first meet the five high spirited sisters, they are celebrating the end of the school year with playful romp at the beach with boys from their school.
Unfortunately, someone from their neighborhood sees them, considers their behavior scandalous, and reports it to their strict grandmother
Grandmother: Everybody’s talking about your obscene behavior.
One of the sisters: What?
Grandmother: Rubbing your parts on boys’ necks.
In the country town they live in, arranged marriages are the norm and all brides must be virgins.
Grandmother: If there was the slightest doubt, you’d never be able to get married.
Their mean uncle is outraged and orders medical exams for all of them to make certain they have not been sexually active. They have not.
Sister (voice over): After that the doors of the house were always locked. Anything likely to pervert us was banned.
As the youngest sister puts it, the house became a “wife factory.”
Anything thing considered to be a source of possible “corruption,” is locked away, and the uncle even has bars installed to keep them inside.
The youngest girl, Lale, watches her oldest sisters get married off one by one and decides that she’s not going to allow that to happen to her. Lale is only in her early teens, but she decides running away is what she and her remaining sisters should do.
It’s hard for us in America to imagine how such healthy, normal females could be subjected to such rigid control of their lives. But their plight is real for all too many women in this world, and MUSTANG will probably inspire young women all over the middle east… if only they have an opportunity to see it.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org