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Documentary 'Kedi' a fascinating look at co-existing species — humans and cats in Instanbul

Published March 9, 2017 4:27 pm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

There is more than meets the eye in "Kedi," a soulful documentary that follows the wanderings of stray cats in Istanbul, Turkey — and ends up saying something profound about the symbiosis between humans and animals.

Istanbul is home to more than 14 million people who live and work alongside hundreds of thousands of stray cats. The cats aren't feral, nor are they domesticated. They do have unique personalities and motivations — which sometimes, but not always, benefit the people around them.

Sari, a skinny yellow-and-white tabby, hunts down scraps to carry back to her kittens. The gray-and-white Duman gets his food by politely begging, pawing at the window of an upscale deli until the waiters bring out smoked turkey. Aslan Parçasi, a black-and-white longhair, takes his fish near the docks, working for his food by catching rats near a wharfside restaurant. Psikopat, a crazy black-and-white, growls at her "husband" — but growls even louder at any other female cat who gets near him.

Some cats are defined by their neighborhoods. Bengü, a gray tabby, has made a nest for her kittens in the storage room of an ironworks and purrs appreciatively when the workers pet her. Deniz, a white-and-gray tabby, is the mascot of the local organic market, having lived there since he was a kitten. Gamsiz is a player, charming not only the lady cats but a local baker and an actress in the artist district he prowls.

Director Ceyda Torun gets her camera down to the cats' level, following some of these principal characters as they live their lives. She also talks to the humans who sometimes share the cats' space — though they are under no illusion that the cats fully accept the arrangement.

For the humans Torun interviews in "Kedi," the cats are therapeutic, helpful, entertaining and artistically inspiring. They also are an embodiment of the hustle-and-bustle of Istanbul. As one resident puts it, "Without the cat, Istanbul would lose part of its soul." The movie gently, beautifully, shows how these cats adjust to humans, and the humans live with the cats, in a delicate balancing act of cross-species accommodation.


Twitter: @moviecricket —



A thoughtful, poetic documentary looks at the thousands of cats who live untamed in Istanbul.

Where • Broadway Centre Cinemas.

When • Opens Friday, March 10.

Rating • Not rated, but probably PG for images of cats in peril.

Running time • 79 minutes; in Turkish, with subtitles.






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