Kedi (an Ottoman Turkish word for 'cat') - is a new documentary from Director Ceyda Torun. Stunningly filmed, it views the lives of 7 street cats living in Istanbul through the eyes of the local people who care for them.
By any standard, Kedi is an exquisitely beautiful film. The images throughout are infused with the Director's love of her city of Istanbul, its inhabitants – and of course the cats she so clearly adores. The breathtaking aerial shots of the city, its skyline, mosques and the ever-present Bosphorous, where much of the filming takes place, are a perfect backdrop for the cats. Feline beauty is captured by intense close ups tracing their features and through lingering shots of them sauntering and sleeping in every corner of the city. She even finds a type of beauty in the unglamorous city margins where the cats live. A polystyrene box on the seafront is not a lovely thing, but as a protective home to a clutch of tiny abandoned kittens, it takes on an unexpected charm.
The story is narrated (with English subtitles) by the local people who live alongside and support these cats. There is beauty, too, in their gentle, unobtrusive kindness. These generous people speak of these cats with genuine respect and admiration - and clearly feel joy from their interactions and gratitude for their presence.
It's an uplifting film which manages to find the right balance. These cats are real and we know they are vulnerable - from casual abuse, aggression from other cats, road traffic accidents, sickness, age and changes in to the city. Around the world life on the streets for cats is tough – and often brutal and short. But Ceyda Torun wants us to see their lives from another angle. These cats are strong and resourceful - and with a little support from good people who are prepared to afford them space to live alongside them - they can have good lives.
This is a message that International Cat Care whole-heartedly supports. Not all cats need or want homes - some need just a bit of support in the form of food, shelter and veterinary help in emergencies. We also believe in humane population management through neutering to keep street cat colonies healthy and safe. Kedi demonstrates just how important this is; in one story, one woman alone is trying to care for 60 cats living around her home, with many dying from mammary cancer, the risk of which is dramatically reduced through timely neutering.
Kedi illustrates one of our own central principles – that we can change the world for cats if we seek to understand them better and are prepared to change our attitudes and behaviours towards them. The good people of Istanbul are living proof that a better, kinder world is possible.
So, it's a beautiful film - and for that reason alone you should see it. But perhaps more than that, Kedi has a message that is bold and compelling and worth hearing. So often street cats are presented simply as the sad victims of human cruelty and ignorance. But Ceyda Torun presents an alternative vision - and it's a vision that we can all contribute to.