The cat’s py­ja­mas

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - TARA BRADY

Du­man the gour­mand taps at the restau­rant win­dow when­ever he re­quires roast beef or – when di­et­ing – smoked cuts and turkey. Psikopat keeps her “hus­band” close and her din­ner even closer. Gam­siz gam­bols between bene­fac­tors, in­clud­ing a kindly baker, in the hippest part of town.

Th­ese and other colour­ful cats are the stars of this gor­geous, en­gag­ing doc­u­men­tary, a chron­i­cle and a tribute to Is­tan­bul’s al­most wor­ship­ful at­ti­tude to­wards its for­tu­nate fe­line in­hab­i­tants. “Dogs think peo­ple are God, but cats don’t,” ex­plains one of the hu­man par­tic­i­pants. “Cats know that peo­ple act as mid­dle­men to God’s will. They’re not un­grate­ful. They just know bet­ter.”

There are thou­sands of cats in Is­tan­bul, strolling ma­jes­ti­cally through the city’s mosques, mar­kets and moor­ings. The an­i­mals have le­gions of hu­man al­lies and chums who feed them, wa­ter them and take them to the vet. “We all have run­ning tabs at the vet,” ex­plains Gam­siz’s baker chum.

The hu­mans are not named, but they do talk us through the long and fas­ci­nat­ing his­tory of cats in the fish­ing port and the great ben­e­fits that come from moggy com­pan­ion­ship. “They ab­sorb all your neg­a­tive en­ergy,” says one shop­keeper.

Fans of LOL­cats and in­ter­net memes will de­light in the many kit­tens fea­tured here. But Kedi – the ti­tle means “cat” in Turk­ish – of­fers big­ger, sounder lessons about the ecosys­tem, too. The stray cats of Is­tan­bul have earned their keep for cen­turies. They helped out on fish­ing boats, chased away the sewer rats of the Ot­toman em­pire and seem to heal those who are lonely or de­pressed.

Work­ing with cin­e­matog­ra­phers Char­lie Wup­per­mann and Alp Kor­fali, di­rec­tor Torun al­ter­nates between an in­ge­nious, cat’s-eye view track­ing and mag­nif­i­cent aerial shots of the city, all set to a ter­rific score by Kira Fon­tana. A purrfect an­ti­dote to block­buster fa­tigue.

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