Kedi documents stray cats in Istanbul. Felines are notorious (as are other animals and children) for being hard to direct. You don’t train a cat to walk along a line and stop at their mark.
A point aside, I once worked on a national commercial back in 1984 where the animal trainer had given the performing cat Valium to calm it down and the cat was so stoned it couldn’t act. The company even made a wrap tee shirt that depicted the cat with a dazed gaze. So the production manager went and got their cat that did just fine in the role of a family kitty sitting on the floor.
Kedi shows such a feel for the way of life of a cat expressed in tracking shots as well as angles that suggest what the cat is seeing that it’s possible it was actually made by a cat. The film partners, director/producer Ceyda Torun and producer/co-cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann obviously spent serious time studying the habits and patterns of Kedi’s seven main leads: Sari, Bengü, Psikopat, Deniz, Aslan Parçasi, Duman and Gamsiz.
The cats are shown against the background of a city that itself is a couple of thousand years old. Some of the cats inhabit less impressive digs than others. But they all fit into the scheme that a city of such an age has respect for its inhabitants, both two and four-legged. There’s also the implication that a person would rather befriend a lone cat than a homeless person. Istanbul has four times the population of Houston.
One shot has Sari carrying some food in its mouth down the street around the corner and up the stairs. And then Sari proceeds to drop the foodstuff to a kindle of kittens.
Another shot shows Sari walking along a rooftop and stopping perfectly at the point where you can see the setting sun. Maybe it’s the rising sun? I don’t know Istanbul well enough to say if they’re facing east or west.
Another cool customer, Duman the gentleman cat, hangs out at a popular restaurant. Duman never bothers the patrons save for a few autographs, but when he wants food he signals to the staff by pawing on the window of the establishment. The manager tells the audience that at first Duman was overweight so, on the advise of a vet, they started feeding him small amounts of smoked meats and maybe a bit of manchego cheese.
Watching a film like Kedi puts the viewer in a mood to appreciate the life that surrounds them. Lovers of alpha cats will agree this is the best film about cats since the fictional narrative 1963 Disney flick The Three Lives of Thomasina.
Kedi opens this weekend at the Landmark River Oaks Theatre.