MUSTANG Turkey! Its maaaaybe not the best place to be a little girl.
  • MUSTANG Turkey! It's maaaaybe not the best place to be a little girl.

Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven's Mustang is about the ways patriarchy oppresses women. It's set in Turkey, but the specific cultural context matters less than the general one: It could take place in any country or historical era where women's access to wealth, education, and physical autonomy is completely controlled by men.

Five orphaned sisters live in a small town, in the home of their paranoid grandmother and abusive uncle. When a neighbor spots them playing in the ocean with their schoolmates (boys!), the scandal marks a turning point in their young adulthood. The girls, who are joyfully free in the film's opening scene, see their world collapse in on itself: Bars appear on the window of their room. They're banned from school, prohibited from seeing their friends, and confined to home until they can be married off (virginity intact, natch).