Director: Ceyda Torun
Cast: Bülent Üstün, Mine Sogut, Elif Nursad Atalay
Watch Kedi online in the UK: iTunes / TalkTalk TV Store / Virgin Movies / eir Vision Movies
Turkish-born, US-based filmmaker Ceyda Torun directs this utterly charming documentary, which observes the day-to-day lives of the feline residents of Istanbul, with a few of the humans thrown in for good measure. The film’s title, Kedi, means “cat” in Turkish and the city is home to thousands of free-roaming stray felines that the locals have come to accept as a fact of life.
Working in collaboration with cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann, Torun’s film introduces us to a large number of different cats, along with several heart-warming interviews with the various people who come into contact with them. There are several memorable characters, in both species, whether it’s the chubby cat who sits outside an upmarket restaurant all day and will only eat the highest quality scraps, or the fisherman who claims that, after his boat was damaged in a storm, a mysterious cat lead him to a lost wallet that contained exactly the amount of money he needed for repairs.
However, there’s much more to the film than just 79 minutes of adorable cat footage (although that’s a key aspect, to be sure). What emerges from the film is a strong sense of the spiritual connection between the cats and the humans: one shopkeeper says that the cats “absorb all your negative energy – they do me good”, while another interviewee likens stroking cats to fingering prayer beads. It’s abundantly clear that a mutually beneficial relationship has evolved between the city and its kitty litter, with various people even willing to shoulder vet bills for the strays.
Torun and Wuppermann include some extraordinary footage, whether it’s dozens of cats napping precariously on perilously high window ledges or a frustrated feline being beaten to a pile of fish scraps by boisterous seagulls. There are a number of wonderful tracking shots, following cats on their daily journeys throughout the city, as well as some great street-level sequences of cats getting into chases and fights.
The director indulges in some fascinating asides – for example, when an interviewee muses that befriending a cat is like befriending an alien, Torun gives us a superb montage sequence of cat-face close-ups that has a decidedly eerie feel to it, accentuated by Kira Montana’s twinkly score. However, there’s at least one terribly irresponsible moment, when Torun fails to follow-up on what happened to a tiny kitten who’s rushed to hospital by a concerned citizen, carrying it in the palm of his hand.
If you’re a cat-lover, you’ll find Kedi impossible to resist. And watching at home, you can go “Awwww” as much as you want, without fear of disturbing other cinema patrons.