Born in Ankara in 1978, Deniz Gamze Ergüven was raised between France, Turkey and the United States. A compulsive cinephile, she studied directing at La Fémis in Paris, after a BA in literature and an MA in African History at Johannesburg. Her graduation film, Bir Damla Su (Une goutte d'eau), screened at the Cannes Festival Cinéfondation and won a Leopards of Tomorrow award at Locarno. After graduating from La Fémis, Ergüven began developing Kings, a debut feature set in South Central Los Angeles during the 1992 riots that was selected by Emergence, the Cinéfondation Workshop, and Sundance Screenwriters Lab. That project was set aside to produce Mustang, co-written with Alice Winocour, which was shot around Inebolu in northern Turkey.