Yesterday, as part of our week-long celebration of our fortieth wedding anniversary, Clif and I went to Railroad Square Cinema to see Kedi, a Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. As the title of this post indicates, I absolutely loved the movie.
However, before I get into a brief description of Kedi, I do want to establish I am more of a dog person than a cat person. Not that I don’t like cats. I most certainly do. At present there are two resident felines at the little house in the big woods, and I am very fond of both of them. But for me, dogs rank number one. That’s just the way it is.
Nevertheless, Kedi struck me to the core with its soulfulness and beauty. And unlike many documentaries, it didn’t seem a minute too long. (My husband Clif felt otherwise, and I’m wondering if all the cute kitten videos I watch on YouTube has built up my cat-watching stamina.)
Here is a blurb from the movie’s website: “Cats, all kinds of cats, roam the city, free, without a human master. Some fend for themselves…others are cared for by communities of people, pampered with the best cat food and given shelter for the cold months. Cats have been a part of the city for thousands of years, and so, everyone who grows up in Istanbul or lives in Istanbul has a story about a cat….Street cats are such a big part of the culture that when US president Barack Obama visited Istanbul, part of his tour included a stop at the Hagia Sophia to visit its famous cat. Cats are as integral to the identity of Istanbul as its monuments, the Bosporus, tea, raki and fish restaurants.”
Kedi, which means cat in Turkish, follows seven cats and the people with whom they have bonded, including an artist, a deli owner, and a depressed man who finds meaning by feeding some of the street cats. From these people, there are lovely ruminations about cats and what they bring to the city. One woman notes that how we treat animals is a reflection of how we treat people in general. So true! The people, while taking care of the cats, admire their Independence and let them come and go as they please.
Another cat lover says, “Dogs think that people are God but cats don’t. Cats know that people act as middlemen to God’s will. They’re not ungrateful. They just know better.” (This, no doubt, will bring howls of objections from dog lovers.)
Then there are the cats themselves—Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz. The cinematography is nothing short of amazing as the cameras catch what cats do: prowl, climb, jump, leap, stalk mice, lovingly tend their kittens, fight, and show deep affection toward the humans who love them.
Kedi is a more a meditation about the street cats of Istanbul than a traditional documentary with an arc. For me, it worked so well that not only would I like to see this movie again, but I would also like to own the movie on DVD.
And there are not many movies I feel this way about.