'Kedi' movie review: Compelling, satisfying look at the lives of street cats
First and foremost, this documentary about cats isn't merely for cat people. "Kedi" (screening during the 42nd Seattle International Film Festival) is an oddly engrossing look at a peculiar cultural dynamic between the people of the ancient city of Istanbul - and the cats who have lived there just as long.
In short: A documentary filmmaker profiles several well-known cats who live among the residents and shopkeepers of Istanbul. (Watch the trailer)
Watching the Turkish people genuinely ascribe very human traits upon the neighborhood cats says more about their take on relationships than just showing silly people fawn over felines. Calling the featured cats feral isn't accurate because these are not merely savage animals surviving in the city - these are cats who have found a niche amid the citizens and evolved to become residents of the streets. Some are polite beggars, others have found "jobs" while others have found purpose within the community.
Each vignette reveals a relationship unlike most owner-animal dynamics. The people of Istanbul feed and care for the cats, they do not consider the cats as their pets. "Kedi" reveals two species living side by side, in a relationship that has been forged over hundreds of years. And this is hardly a one-sided exchange. The cats offers a street-type of companionship - they maintain their independence but establish bonds with their human neighbors. Some cats find roles within their community and some humans find salvation in the act of caring for the sicked or orphaned street cats. In the end, "Kedi" is a heartfelt look into community relationships.
Final verdict: Simply calling "Kedi" that "cat movie" is reductive. This satisfying doc reveres these cats as equal residents of Istanbul.
"Kedi" is not yet rated and has a running time of 79 minutes.