If I told you right now that this is a review of a documentary about the cats living in Istanbul, what would you do? Yawn? Walk away? Say that doesn’t sound very interesting? All of those reactions would be wrong! Granted, as a cat lover I may be a little biased, but Kedi, a Turkish film directed by Ceyda Torun, is quite possibly the best documentary ever. In fact, Time magazine listed it as one of the top 10 films of 2017!
Kedi is about the many feral cats living on the streets of Istanbul and their impact on human lives. It introduces you to several cats, seven in particular, through video footage of the cats’ lives and interviews with the humans who know them well. There’s Psikopat, the fish thief and resident psycho; Aslan Parçasi, who lives by a restaurant hunting mice; Gamsiz, the carefree kitty who runs through the streets doing as he pleases; Deniz, who lives in a market; and more!
The movie is more than just watching the cats’ antics. The interviews with the people who describe their experiences with the cats and their perspectives is really interesting. One part I liked in particular was the story of a man who had a mental illness and cured himself by devoting himself to taking care of stray cats. Another story is about a fisherman whose boat sank, and he really needed money to buy a new one. Then he noticed a stray cat pointing him to a wallet, and… I won’t spoil the rest. Now that fisherman is caring for orphaned stray kittens with a milk bottle. One of the best things about Kedi is how the humans care for the cats and in doing so make themselves feel good. That’s the central theme of the documentary – animals and people help each other.
Another thing I love about Kedi is the stunning images of beautiful Istanbul and delightful music. What’s so unique is that in most places stray cats are seen as a nuisance, but in Istanbul they are an essential part of the city’s culture. It’s a wonderful way to learn about cats, people, and how animals and humans mutually help each other.
Unless you speak Turkish, you will need to use subtitles, but soon you will barely notice them. It’s available on Netflix or at your library. Kedi is a fascinating and amazing documentary that anyone and everyone should watch (not just cat lovers).