"A cat meowing at your feet, looking up at you, is life smiling at you," says one of the interviewees in Kedi, and who am I to argue? Ceyda Torun's daydream-like documentary explores the street cats of Istanbul, those countless, fearless denizens of Turkey's biggest, most bustling metropolis. Anyone who's visited the city has probably noticed that they're everywhere you look, fed and cared for by small networks of waiters, bakers, grocers, shopkeepers, wandering merchants and tourists. When I used to go back to Turkey more frequently, I would always check in on a couple of feliness on a particular road in Beyoğlu. I did this not because I was a cat person, although I would eventually become one, but because it provided a sense of continuity in a city that otherwise seemed ever-changing and impossible.
Torun's film lovingly conveys that idea -- that the cats of Istanbul help humanize and make sense of an uncontrollable place. She follows a number of cats as they make their way through their respective hoods, and by "follow" I mean she literally follows them, her camera low and gliding smoothly behind them, close to the ground.
The director also spends some time interviewing the cats' … well, "owners" isn't exactly the right word, is it? But the kitties of Istanbul do have their human associates, the people who feed them, watch out for them and take care of them when they're sick. By showing the citizens of this troubled city at their most generous, Kedi suggests that a social fabric that often seems like it's rapidly fraying -- at least to many of us now on the outside -- still endures.