Having witnessed all manner of documentaries, it almost seems implausible that an impressive and insightful one about cats has taken this long to arrive but with KEDi, it’s definitely worth the wait. Ceyda Torun’s Istanbul-based film is a beautiful, composed and inquisitive look into the lives of 7 specific cats who roam the streets of the Turkish city.
KEDi, the word for Feline in Turkish, focuses around these seven particular moggies because Istanbul has a rich history of street cats and there are hundreds that roam the historic houses and walls beyond our chosen furry friends. Shot over two months, Torun gets deep into the lives of Sari (aka The Hustler), Bengü (The Lover), Aslan Parçasi (The Hunter), Psikopat (The Psycho), Deniz (The Social Butterfly), Duman (The Gentleman) and Gamsiz (The Player), who have all been named by the people they visit. Thanks to her wonderful film work, which involves the invention of ‘cat cams’ to get down to their height level, we gradually witness the distinct characteristics of these unique individuals, and cats lovers among you will lap it up as you get to see the traits and habits of each.
What’s also charming, and somewhat poignant, about KEDi is how the director offers up stories of the relationships formed between the cats and the lives of the people they’ve adopted. Because, here’s the important part, these cats aren’t owned by anyone and yet many decide to have either a favourite ‘human’ they regularly visit or a spot in the city they’ve made their home. Torun deftly highlights the huge, modern changes in the city, the re-development of old areas and how the locals are concerned about what will happen to the cats and, in fact, are more worried about their feline friends than their own future, and you can see why considering their acquaintances.
Of course while the cat stories fascinate, we also learn the tales of the people involved and how they’ve come to need the cats in their lives. One man tells us of the history of why there are so many different types of feline and it’s because during the Ottoman Empire ships would dock from all over the world. Ships in that era always had cats on-board to help with any rat problems but they would leave when they docked and head to the hills of Istanbul but, of course, many would never make it back to where they originated from. There’s also an enduring saying from another, who says “A cat meowing at your feet, looking up at you, is life smiling at you.” which I think is a very appealing belief.
Not only does KEDi sell the striking city and history of Istanbul quite effortlessly, it’s the stories of cats and people who interweave across the city which is Ceyda Torun’s full focus. We see how people give their time and money, beyond what they have, to help the cats survive because in their eyes they’re a sacred heart in the history of the city. Truthfully, all you want to do is help them and the kittens as well.
KEDi is a wonderful, warmhearted and intuitive documentary that’s exquisitely filmed and framed throughout, like individual photographs forming a story of another day in the city, while reminding us how important these cats are to life and everyone who lives there.
KEDi opens in UK cinemas on June 30, for more information head to their site: www.kedifilm.com