Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
KEDi: The Cats of Istanbul
least cats are considered clean, unlike dirty, lovable dogs. As Turkey tilts
closer and closer to Iran, its pets should become nervous. For now, hundreds or
maybe thousands of cats run free through the streets of Istanbul and most of
the locals find them charming. The bond between felines and humans is examined
[while it lasts] in Ceyda Torun’s KEDi (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
strays have run free throughout Istanbul since its days as a major
international port. Cats would hop off during lay-overs and often wind up
staying. However, the city really started to embrace the stray population to
combat the rats brought out by an ill-fated Ottoman sewer project. At least
that is the feline history of Turkey according to graphic novelist Bülent Üstün,
whose best-known work was adapted as the film, Bad Cat—so, surely he ought to know.
introduces us to a number of cats, who are frequently anthropomorphized by
humans. The people in question are not really owners, per se. They merely stand
ready to supply the beasts with food and water whenever they might ask. In some
cases, it rather makes sense, such as the waterfront café that sort of adopted
the mouser, Little Lion. Frankly, some of these cats probably eat better than
half of Turkey.
KEDi (as in “here Kedi, Kedi”) is
about as review-proof as the next Star
Wars movie. You will either come into the film primed to be delighted by
the feline creatures or you won’t. Ask yourself how charmed will you be by the
site of these fur balls scampering through the streets of Istanbul. Basically,
you can think of the film as D.A. Pennebaker’s YouTube cat videos. There is no
shortage of strutting and slinking. However, it is hugely impressive how well cinematographer
Charlie Wupperman captures the feline action, up-close-and-personal.
Torun and Wupperman make the cats and their city look rather charming. It also
suggests through its examples there is a bright red line Turkey’s ascendant
Islamists would be well-advised not to cross. Pleasant but not nearly as
insightful as it presents itself to be, KEDi
is recommended for crazy cat ladies when it opens this Friday (2/10) in New
York, at the Metrograph.
Labels: Documentary, Turkish Cinema