It’s been said that the age of the Internet has much in common with Ancient Egypt: everybody spends their time writing on walls and worshipping cats. Ceyda Torun’s film Kedi seems at first to be an embodiment of this modern worship, but eventually proves a much deeper examination of the city of Istanbul and its inhabitants, both human and feline.
Arriving on boats in the time of the Ottoman Empire, cats from all corners of the globe formed a society of sorts, as colourful and diverse as their human neighbours. Empires and governments have come and gone, but still the cats remain.
The notion of hundreds of stray animals wandering around such a bustling metropolis is surreal, and Charlie Wupperman’s excellent cinematography pays heed to the notion that interacting with them feels like communicating with an alien race. His mixture of extreme close-ups, slow-motion shots and beautiful vistas of the city skyline make Kedi feel like a cross between a David Attenborough series and Whicker’s World.
Admittedly man cannot live on cute cats alone, but thankfully Torun has included plenty of insightful interviews with the locals on what it’s like to live with these animals on a daily basis. To them, these are no mere pets: they are a source of positive energy and happiness, a part of the workforce – even a means of communicating with God. It’s a shame, then, that we know so little about these people: in many cases, we never even learn their names.
Those with a fondness for felines will need little persuading to watch Kedi. For those without it’s still a beautiful portrait of Istanbul, and a thought-provoking examination of why humans form such strong bonds with animals. As one market vendor eloquently says: “People who don’t love cats can’t love people.”
DIRECTOR: Ceyda Torun
SYNOPSIS: A documentary about what it’s like to be a cat in Istanbul.