Review: Kedi

There is an untapped market never spoken of in film exhibition circles. Cat lovers are seriously under-served when it comes to sympathetic kitty characterisations. Finally, along comes Kedi, which goes some way to filling that hungry niche.

This is a documentary set on the streets of Istanbul, a photogenic city if ever there was one. It follows the lives of seven stray cats, all with very different personalities – Sari the hustler, Bengu the lover, Psikopat the psycho, Deniz the social butterfly, Aslan Parcasi the hunter, Duman the gentleman and Gamsiz the player.

We witness how these moggies interact with the people of the town. Whether it be poking around the fish markets, doing some alfresco dining at the local restaurants or simply lapping up the attention of some of the residents, they are very much a part of the flavour of the city.

We also get to see the rapid redevelopment of the land and how it affects the humans and cats of Istanbul.

It’s no wonder Kedi has been such a hit on the festival circuit. It’s like taking a breather from all the heavy dramas on offer. The film has also been a surprise arthouse success in the States.

Apart from the cats, one of the doco’s chief assets is the nimble cinematography, often tracking at ankle level, it gives us a cat’s eye view of the world. The roving lense follows the cats up trees and along building ledges, and there are also some stunning aerial shots.

Kedi makes for a wonderful cinematic postcard of Turkey’s vibrant, exotic city and it gives a great insight into the people who live there. It’s also, naturally, a treat for cat lovers, who until now have had to content themselves with cute youtube videos. This is a much more substantial view of feline behaviour and the impact cats have on people. The townsfolk that are interviewed are full of captivating stories, and the cats clearly feel very much at home, wherever they roam.

This is the feature length debut for director Ceyda Torun. She wisely refrains from pushing any kind of narrative or agenda onto the film. She’s content to let things unfold naturally.

The lyrical music of Kira Fontana features prominently on the soundtrack, but it’s a rich and varied musical backdrop which features everything from Eartha Kitt to the oriental jazz fusions of Lloyd Miller.  

Kedi (the word is Turkish for cat) is a very likeable film, although, at a brief 80 minutes, it’s a sweet but slight affair.

✭✭✭1/2  

Kedi is screening exclusively at ACMI

Richard Leathem @dickiegee