If you love cats, Kedi is for you
If you love the city of Istanbul, Kedi is for you
Even if you’re not particularly a fan of cats or have never been to Turkey, Kedi is still worth a watch.
Kedi is a Turkish film that documents the lives of the cats on the streets of Istanbul through the eyes of people who care for some of these cats as well as the cats themselves. I first got to know about the film through an online trailer about a year ago – shortly after my trip to Turkey. Having lived with cats almost all my life I was thrilled about the film but wasn’t sure how I would ever get to see it. Fast forward many months and I found out that a local art house cinema was screening the film. I watched it yesterday and I loved it. Incidentally kedi in Turkish means ‘cat’. D’uh!
Kedi could have very easily just been a collage film with footage of cute cats interspersed with each other. It would have still made for a good movie. But what makes Kedi quite special is that the movie is narrated by people who care for some of these street cats and by doing so it paints a poignant picture of the deep compassion and love that these people hold for the felines. Every person portrayed in the film is just an ordinary person- a shop keeper, an artist, a cafe owner, a fisherman. Despite their own fragile lives, these people go out of their ways to be kind to cats.
Early on in the film the narrator says, “It is said that cats are aware of the existence of God whereas dogs are not. Dogs think that humans are God. Cats know that people are the middlemen of God’s will. It is not that they are ungrateful. They just know better.” (okay that may not have been verbatim- I’m quoting from memory). Anybody who loves cats and understands cats would relate completely to that sentence.
Another caretaker describes cats as having a certain femininity that women today have lost. The owner of a small cafe who dotes on one of the cats says him and his neighbours have running tabs with the vet to pay for the bills. Another man carries around heavy bags of fish everyday to feed hundreds of cats. In one scene he describes how he couldn’t feed them one evening and felt so guilty he couldn’t even have dinner. Clusters of cats run expectantly up to him. The man says helping cats helped heal himself after a nervous breakdown. What is common with all these people is the love and concern they hold for the cats. And also how well they understand cats. None of them expect the cats to demonstrate their love to them but just understand that this is how things are with felines.
The narrators in the film don’t have to do any of the kind things they do to the kedis. It does not take much to get wrapped up in one’s own life and troubles and shut yourself to others’ troubles especially those of beings that are not human. I hope that the people watching this film will think about how they can help the lives of those around them- not just cats but any being that needs just a bit of kindness- without expecting anything in return.
The cinematography of Kedi is fantastic as is the haunting soundtrack. Whether it is a stunning visual of the Bosporus sea or an infrared image of a cat hunting a mouse in the sewer, the film will keep you entertained and also give you food for thought.
If you’re in Dubai, Cinema Akil in Al Serkal Avenue is screening Kedi until Thursday 17 August. Passes cost AED 35- you also get a pack of biscuits with your ticket 🙂