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by Shelly Schoeneshoefer

Directed by: Deniz Gamze Eguven, France/Turkey/Germany

Five high-spirited girls say goodbye to their teacher  who is leaving for Istanbul and, on their way home, they decide to play with  some of their male classmates at the beach. To us, it seems harmless but in a  remote Turkish village it creates a stir and the neighbors start talking. Their  uncle comes to the rescue. He wants to make sure their virginity is ensured and  he has the doctor check them out. He then beats them as though they were whores  despite the doctor’s assurance that everything is in order. He then takes them  away from their grandmother who has been raising them since their parent’s  death. Once he has them under his thumb, their lives become dull with the  learning of house chores and finding appropriate husbands for the girls. 

Despite their confinement, they began to figure  out ways of escaping to have a bit of freedom such as going to a soccer game  that unfortunately could be seen live on broadcast. It soon becomes clear the  more they push their boundaries, the more the house becomes their prison.  Like wild mustangs running in the fields in  spring, their sexuality slowly awakes. It is not a wonder that soon the girls  are pitted against their uncle, the prearranged weddings and all other  obstacles that stand in their way. This is a beautiful film where these five  girls are strong together but have an emotional sensitivity which is constantly  being tested in order to break their wills. There is an underlining tension that  is present and as the girls attempt to get release it, it because a noose that  binds them ever tighter. We see the traditional structure of a remote society  that is ready to burst and become modern through female empowerment, but do  these girls stand a chance? All five sisters give brilliant performances. You  feel their freedom and their confinement and the despair that is ever  prevalent.  This was my favorite pick at  the festival this year.