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 (email@example.com)
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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You forget Turkey's difficult politics watching this documentary by Turkish filmmaker Ceyda Torun and cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann about Istanbul's Big Romance with—cats! (What did you think "Kedi" means?) At an hour twenty-minutes, the film is somewhat longer than it might be, but as a vacation from the news cycle, perhaps not long enough. The residents of Istanbul don't "own" most of the cats that roam their streets and markets, that nest in quiet places and makeshift hideaways. But they more than tolerate them, they celebrate them. And the cats, meanwhile, act like "slumming royals," says Joe Leydon in Variety. You can see the cast here. A number of the featured felines rule the neighborhoods where they live, defending their turf against interlopers and providing benefits to the humans. "They absorb my negative energy," one man says. A waterside restaurant owner who'd had a problem with "mice" (I fear this was a euphemism) celebrated the day "this lion took up residence." She takes care of the "mice," to the comfort of the diners, I'm sure. My particular favorite was the cat who lives at a deli. She never goes inside, but paws at the window—rather insistently, it should be noted—when she wants one of the countermen to make her a snack. The filmmakers identified a number of the city's human residents whose mission seems to be to keep these felines in food. One pair of women cooks twenty pounds of chicken a day for them. (!) "All of us have tabs with all the vets," says a bakery owner, and we see a man take an injured kitten to the vet in a taxi.. In short, the film is charming. It talks about how cats are different than dogs. And it shows how caring for the cats has been helpful to people in many ways. Suitable for all ages, and especially for those who have—or wish they had—been to Istanbul and now are reluctant to go because of paragraph one above. As Leydon says, it's "splendidly graceful and quietly magical."
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