In the city of Istanbul, there are more than just human inhabitants. There are also the stray domestic cats of the city who live free but have complicated relationships with the people themselves. This film follows a selection of individual cats as they live their own lives in Istanbul with their own distinctive personalities. However, with this vibrant population, is the reality of an ancient metropolis changing with the times that may have less of a place for them.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Bulent Ustun who is one of the cast members is a creator of the well-known Turkish comic book character "Kotu Kedi Serafettin" See more »
Unnamed Human Resident of Istanbul:
Dogs think people are God, but cats don't. Cats are aware of God's existence. Cats know that people act as middlemen to God's will. They're not ungrateful, they just know better.
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Cute cats, a unique look at a culture we're unfamiliar with, Euro-loving
This is an art-house theatre winner. Cats, Istanbul, and Turks waxing philosophical about cats - what could be better? Every indie movie house must be desperate to scoop up this film. If you're a foreign film fan who loves things off-the-beaten-path, you'll love this film.
Kedi is refreshingly non-American. It steers clear of the formulaic elitism of typical American documentaries. Not only is it full of cute cats, but it also gives us a unique look at a culture most of us are unfamiliar with - Turkey and Istanbul. Did anyone know Istanbul is so stunning, aquatic, and reminiscent of old Europe, but with a unique vibe all its own? I can tell this film is increasing the tourism rates for Istanbul and Turkey.
So there were shots of romantic alleyways like those in England or Paris. And there were picturesque cityscapes that remind me of an art film set in Edinburgh. Istanbul apparently has a very Euro cafe culture. But so much of Istanbul in the film seems so new to me - lots of colors, details, and an aesthetic that's all its own.
The people interviewed seemed funny, artistic, intelligent, and thoughtful. Maybe they don't represent most Turks - just a subset that the director, Ceyda Torun, chose to interview for the film. Just like people in US films don't represent most Americans, the people chosen for this film surely don't represent the typical Turk. Watch all films with a grain of salt.
So this is how the film lovingly paints Istanbul:
-Colorful, artsy, dreamy, unique - like a film version of novels by Orhan Pamuk
-Remniscent of romantic Old Europe, but also with a vibe and look that's all its own. (Turks apparently want to identify with Europe - who wouldn't? I can tell this is the image the director wants to portray - not Central Asian, not Middle Eastern, and not "Oriental.")
-Loves its cats; the people are PETA types, altruistic, animal-loving. (Director has lived in the US since her teens, so of course the US animal welfare culture is heavily within her.)
-Refreshingly free of an angry animal-rights vibe (It's not a Michael Moore film, or an animal welfare film that's overly preachy, but does have an altruistic animal lover vibe running through it.)
-The Istanbul residents are creative, philosophical, kind of Zen, relaxed, happy, and cool in a unique way. (This is how the director wants to see herself, and these are her friends and acquaintances, so of course these are the people she interviews.)
Obviously, the director feels very close and loving towards Istanbul and its people and cats. ^^ I thought it was interesting how Turks related to cats vs. Americans. In the US, alley cats and pet cats alike would surely be fed manufactured cat food. But most of the Turks in the film fed the cats raw people food, like fish, sliced meat, etc. And they threw the food directly on the ground for the cats to eat, while Americans would consider that taboo and dirty. We feed even stray and feral cats from bowls.
Anyway, if you're a cat lover or art film lover - run, don't walk to see this film! It's probably the sweetest, prettiest, and most educational documentary of the year. Istanbul was never really on the radar for me, but now it's on my list of must-visit places.
The director, Ceyda Torun, was apparently born in Istanbul, moved to the Middle East when she was 11, went to high school in NYC, and now lives in LA. So that explains the film and provides context for it. Torun reminds me of a softer, more dreamy, and less femi-Nazi version of Man Repeller, who's from NYC and of Turkish/Iranian descent.
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