“Dogs think humans are Gods, but cats know better. Cats know that people act as middlemen to God’s will.”
This token of wisdom comes from one of the human subjects of the Turkish documentary, Kedi, opening this Friday, March 3 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. (Bonus: On opening night, Mud Bay will be at the theater with a DIY catnip toy table and treats.) The film is directed by Ceyda Turon, who grew up in Istanbul and felt inspired by the city’s many free-roaming cats.
Kedi was a big hit at last year’s Seattle International Film Festival. I remember waiting outside of SIFF Cinema Uptown to see what turned out to be a not-great documentary about Slender Man. Meanwhile, Kedi had a showing in the next theater. We all know festivals can sometimes break hearts. (Too many people show up and not everybody can get a seat!) I still remember the sympathetic pangs I felt as dozens of people couldn’t make it into the screening of what I dumbly referred to as, “the cat movie.”
If you were one of those people left dejected on the sidewalk, take heart! Kedi has finally made its way back to Seattle, and it’s worth the wait.
We begin on the streets of Istanbul as a camera seamlessly follows a street cat through busy sidewalks. She’s hunting for scraps for her kittens. The shop owners who’ve adopted her tell us the whole story. She used to sleep all day, but now with the kittens, the white and ginger-colored cat has a newfound ambition for hunting and gathering.
Throughout the film, we get a sense for both the animals of Istanbul and the people that they’ve chosen to adopt. “People who don’t love animals can’t love people either,” one man wisely says. “I know that much.”
They aren’t as domestic as a typical American suburban cat, but they’re not altogether feral, either. With intimate, graceful camera work, we get an extra special glimpse into the cat’s daily lives.
“They’re just like people,” their humans exclaim. Or, “They’re not like us, they’re different.” And of course, both are true.
Besides the animals, we get a unique glimpse of Istanbul’s burgeoning cityscape, and what those changes might mean for the many cats who live there. This is a sweet, inspiring film that is all-age appropriate (and won’t induce nausea with too much sentimentality). At 79 minutes, Kedi makes for a perfectly portioned dose of cuteness.