Kedi (2016) ☆☆☆1/2(3.5/4): Cats in Istanbul

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If you adore cats like me, you will find that documentary film “Kedi” is a sheer delight right from its first scene. Looking here and there around the streets and alleys of Istanbul, the documentary presents a vivid glimpse into the daily life of numerous cats inhabiting in the city, and I must confess that it was rather difficult for me to maintain my objective critical viewpoint during my viewing. I could not help but amused by many small precious moments observed from those cute creatures, I could not help but touched by the genuine care and affection they receive from some decent citizens of the city, and, above all, I could not help but impressed by the considerable efforts put into the making of this amazing documentary.

In the documentary, seven different cats are introduced to us one by one, and each of them is equally memorable for each own personality and appearance. At first, we meet a female tabby cat, and we see how she goes through her daily routine for getting food for not only herself but also her little kittens. She and her kittens live in the stairwell of a building, and she also can have some rest in a shop inside the building thanks to its generous owner, who is always ready to provide a place for her.

In case of a female cat usually hanging around a textile shop owned by a middle-aged man, it turns out that she also gave birth to her kittens recently. The documentary watches her sneaking into some hidden place, and then it shows us what is going on inside that place in question. When a black cat happens to intrude into this private place of hers, she naturally becomes irritated by the intruder, and we are amused as watching how the black cat manages to stay there while not annoying her or her kittens.

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In one restaurant, there is a cat which has been a valuable figure for the restaurant. After this cat began to live near the restaurant, the restaurant finally became free of its annoying rat problem, and there is an amusing moment involved with its another search for rats during one evening. It surely senses a rat hiding somewhere, but the rat in question turns out to be a pretty sneaky one, and we get a good chuckle from this literal cat-and-mouse game.

One particular cat in the documentary is nicknamed ‘psychopath’, and there is a good reason for that. Always dominating over her territory, this lady cat is certainly feisty to say the least, and her male mate has no choice but to be pushed out of her way whenever she comes to eat first. When some other female cat dares to approach to her mate, she naturally becomes quite hostile, and she makes it pretty clear to her potential rival that nobody can take away her mate from her.

At a local market place, we meet a male cat which has been active around there for years. He is frequently mischievous as going around here and there in the market place, but the people working there are always friendly to him, and they also show some concern over whether he and other cats in the area will survive the ongoing redevelopment process in the city, whose landscape has constantly been changed with more modern buildings during recent years.

The next one is a male cat usually residing in a small bakery, and we hear about how this charming cat often gets himself into troubles and then gets injured as a result. He likes to spend some time in an apartment belonging to a middle-aged woman, and we watch how he enters that apartment with confident easiness. When some other cat comes into his territory, a tense but amusing turf war happens between them, and that is another entertaining moment in the documentary.

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Although it is mostly benign and mannered, a cat nicknamed ‘Smokey’ cannot help itself at times as following its nature. It usually stays quietly around a delicatessen, but it tries quite hard to draw attention whenever it gets hungry, and we see how much it is treated well. An employee working in the delicatessen gives not only meat but also cheese to this cat, and that takes me back to when I used to give pieces of cheese to a bunch of cats residing in the campus of Korean Advanced Institute of Technology and Science. Those cats surely enjoyed cheese, and I always attracted their attention whenever I unwrapped a pack of cheese in front of them.

The documentary also pays attention to several different citizens who have taken care of cats, and they have some interesting things to show and tell us. In case of one young female artist, she talks about how cats have influenced her femininity, and a fisherman tells us how he came to pay more attention to cats after one small happening. We meet a gregarious guy willing to talk a lot about cats, and he gives us a little explanation on how Istanbul has been strewn with cats for many years. We observe two old ladies who routinely provide freshly prepared food to numerous cats in their neighborhood, and then we hear a poignant personal story from one middle-aged man who has gotten a lot of comfort from taking care of his neighborhood cats.

While being quite amiable as expected, the documentary is also technically impressive, and director Ceyda Torun and her cinematographers Alp Korfali and Charlie Wuppermann surely deserve praises for vividly and intimately presenting their feline subjects on the screen. As closely observing cats, the cameras effortlessly capture a number of superlative moments to be admired and appreciated, and I sometimes wondered how they shot these moments without drawing unnecessary attention from cats.

Overall, “Kedi” is a charming documentary which is also quite terrific in many aspects, and it touchingly reminds me again of why I like cats a lot. Yes, cats may be really cold and selfish as some people say, but it is not easy for me to resist their charm, and I am always amused and delighted by them. After all, they are cute, aren’t they?

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