Art and Experience: Sometimes it takes an outsider perspective to reveal deeper truths about a country’s most shameful issues. For her second feature and English-language debut, Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven set her sights on the notorious L.A. riots in the summer of 1992. Widely praised for her standout debut, “Mustang,” Ergüven attracted the likes of Halle Berry and Daniel Craig for her follow-up, which released a first trailer in anticipation of its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Berry plays a tough but protective foster mother living in South Central L.A. during the weeks leading up to the announcement of the Rodney King verdict. Craig plays one of South Central’s only white residents, who helps Berry’s character track down the kids during the demonstrations. With tensions high on all fronts, the two also grapple with their feelings for one another. Craig and Berry lead a cast of that includes accomplished television actors Kevin Carroll (“The Leftovers”), Peter Mackenzie (“Black-ish”), and Isaac Ryan Brown (“Black-ish”).
Ergüven will have to prove herself worthy of taking on such charged subject matter, especially one so outside of her experience. “Mustang” succeeded because it dealt with teen girls’ sexuality in a repressive Turkish culture, something about which Ergüven clearly had unique insight. The history of race in America is an entirely different story.