Directed by Ceyda Torun. In Turkish, with English subtitles. Rated G
You might expect a documentary about street cats to feature emaciated feral creatures even more disposed to killing us than are those mini tigers we have at home. But that’s not the case with Kedi, which explores whole Istanbul neighbourhoods and finds a delightfully symbiotic relationship between these titular nonpets and their special humans.
It’s hard to imagine how much time filmmaker Ceyda Torun (who works as an assistant director in Hollywood) spent following cats and kittens on the streets of her hometown. The material she ended up with is guaranteed to make feline fanciers look at their preferred subject in a different light. Mostly that light is the gold-dipped, late-afternoon sun of a beautiful port town that feels part of its own history is tied in with the animals that rule its side streets and cafés. The sidewalk-level cams are especially revelatory.
It turns out that, if properly indulged, wild cats do the regular stuff: foraging for food, looking for fun places to hide, watching over kittens, fighting over turf, and lolling in the sun—the original meaning of lolcats, as far as I’m concerned. For a fast-trotting 70 minutes, this is supported by a clever mix of spare marimba music and antique Turkish rock songs. It’s a shame the lyrics of these tunes don’t share subtitles with the shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and apartment dwellers we meet along the way.
All keep a keen eye on their favourites, and vice versa. Some folks even keep photo albums of the tabbies, Persians, and Siamese they hang out with, and can name generations that came before them. The movie has no political content, although some humans express concern for the future of these furry freedom-lovers, especially in old, tree-lined quarters that are being abruptly redeveloped for condos. The rich and powerful love straight, predictable lines. Cats don’t.