DIR: Ceyda Torun • CAST; Bülent Üstün
The arrogance of humankind is such that, by placing ourselves at the pinnacle of food chain, we presume the lives of the other creatures who inhabit this planet to be unimportant or, at best, merely as an accompaniment to our own existence. In Istanbul, however, the hundreds of thousands of cats who roam its ancient streets freely and without owners are an integral part of the city’s soul. It is as much their home as it is for the human residents and there exists between these two species a sort of mutual agreement. The cats keep the streets clean from rodents and in return the locals look after them, leaving small piles of cat food and water dishes on every other corner and providing the occasional belly rub.
The documentary follows the lives of seven cats in particular – the Hustler, the Hunter, the Psycho, the Gentleman, the Social Butterfly, the Lover, and the Player as they are aptly named – and the people who care for them, though of course they do not own them in the classical sense. These cats are free spirits, each with their own distinct personalities and quirks, from guarding their litters from outsiders to knowing which restaurant door to paw at for food. Though aloof, cats are not the unfeeling animals they are often portrayed as in popular culture. The connection between the felines and their human counterparts is genuine, but as one of the best quotes from the film states, ‘While dogs think people are God, cats don’t. They just know better. They know people are just the middlemen.’ Cats can care for us, they’re just not dependent on us.
Kedi is a beautiful and thoughtful documentary that reflects on the nature of the relationship between cats and humans, cats and urban spaces, and cats and life in general. The question of how urban development will affect the city’s cat population is raised both as a very literal concern, but also as a more abstract one. If the cats begin to leave or die out, so too will something intangible yet important that lies at the core of the heart of Istanbul. Director Ceyda Torun manages to capture unique glimpses into the interwoven lives of the cat and the human. It is evident from the shots of cats on the highest of rooftops down to the most claustrophobic of nooks that a lot of hard work and love went into creating this film, making it all the more charming and engaging. While cat lovers will naturally be drawn to this documentary due to the subject matter alone, those with more ambiguous feelings towards our feline friends will also find oodles of things to enjoy in this well-crafted and lovable piece of film. A dog may be a man’s best friend but, with their inherent desire for independence, cats may just be the best reflection in fur of mans’ true nature.
G (See IFCO for details)
Kedi is released 30th June 2017