By CYNTHIA BIDDLECOMB
Editor’s note: Kedi is showing at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. Visit https://www.ccasantafe.org/ for showtimes.
“Kedi” is a film for anyone who loves animals, especially people with an affinity for domestic cats. We are challenged by the film to extend that same fondness and respect to the street cats of Istanbul.
Turkish-born director Ceyda Torun has taken a close look at a unique feature of urban living in her home city of Istanbul, the high prevalence of stray cats and their acceptance in the daily life of the humans around them. Torun misses this aspect of city life while living in Los Angeles and New York. Indeed, we have lost this partnership between human and feline communities.
Torun’s wonderful movie introduces us to several feline personalities and to the humans who interact with them everyday:
- Sari, the Hustler, is a white and orange tabby who lives under Galata Tower. She used to visit a dress shop, sit on a stool and watch the customers. Nowadays she has to hustle, grabbing any food she can find to feed her litter of growing kittens.
- Bengü, the Lover, is a grey tabby with emerald eyes, living in a manufacturing neighborhood. Her kittens are hidden away in a box on the shelf of a chain-making factory. While out foraging for them, she has become the darling of the workmen in the area, who love to sit with her and give her a good petting.
- Psikopat, the Psycho, is a black and white shorthair living in an old neighborhood, showing up each day at a teahouse behind an ancient church. She allows her humans to pet and respect her, but won’t put up with much guff. She’ll even run off other cats for her “husband”.
- Aslan Parçasi, the Hunter, lives on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, along the waterfront. He earns his keep among the fish restaurants by keeping the mice and rats at bay. The café owners call him ‘little lion’ and give him fish scraps.
- Gamsiz, the Player, lives in an artist neighborhood. This black and white shorthair is tougher than he looks. He owns the street and can take down any challengers. Meanwhile, he climbs a tree, up to a terrace and looks sideways into the window of an actress’ apartment, knocking at the window to request access to her special kitty treats.
- Duman, the Gentleman, otherwise known as Smokey, lives in a posh neighborhood and prefers a particular delicatessen for his meals. He politely sits outside the open door and paws the window until his friends on staff bring him his favorite smoked meats and cheeses.
- Deniz, the Social Butterfly, hangs out at the organic farmers market. He is a grey and mostly white tabby, youthful and energetic, visiting many of the stalls and cuddling with the vendors.
Kedi is a delightful documentary with English subtitles. It philosophizes about cats mirroring humans, honoring people with friendship. The humans in it are not afraid to give credit to God/Allah for the blessing of this transcendent, cross-species friendship, which they say brings them such peace and a greater love for life.