KEDI, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, in Turk­ish with sub­ti­tles, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 4 chiles

Pasatiempo - - CONTENTS - — James M. Keller

“A cat me­ow­ing at your feet, look­ing up at you, is life smil­ing at you,” states a gentle­man of Is­tan­bul near the end of Kedi, a heart­warm­ing doc­u­men­tary about the feral cats that in­habit the by­ways of that an­cient, vi­brant city. Di­rec­tor Ceyda Torun has as­sem­bled a star­ring cast of seven among their count­less le­gion and care­fully ob­serves their in­ter­ac­tions with the city and its hu­man oc­cu­pants.

The fe­lines are strong on per­son­al­ity. Psikopat, “the Psy­cho,” for ex­am­ple, is a brassy dame who tra­verses the mean streets with un­mis­tak­able swag­ger. “She is the tough­est among all the fe­males,” says one Is­tan­bu­lite. “Trou­ble for all the fish­er­man. A fish thief. Arch en­emy of the dogs.” Be­ing cats, they nat­u­rally dis­play idio­syn­cra­sies. Du­man has de­cided to adopt a cer­tain café, but he re­sists in­ter­ac­tion with the pa­trons and will not set foot in­side. In­stead, he beats on a front win­dow with his paws when he wants to be fed. “He’s a cat with man­ners,” ob­serves the chef. “No mat­ter how hun­gry he is, he won’t come in, even if the door is open.” The staff re­turns Du­man’s cour­tesy with tough love, putting him on a vet-de­signed weight-loss pro­gram.

The cin­e­matog­ra­phy, by Char­lie Wup­per­mann, re­lies on stealthy cam­er­a­work shot partly from the peo­ples’ vis­ual per­spec­tive and partly from that of the cats. He must have shred­ded a lot of cloth­ing slith­er­ing along the ground to fol­low his sub­jects on their daily rounds and back to their well-con­cealed homes and their new­born lit­ters. Edit­ing by Mo Stoebe keeps the nar­ra­tive flow­ing yet al­lows time for calm re­flec­tion, and the mu­si­cal un­der­pin­ning com­bines un­ob­tru­sive “mood min­i­mal­ism” by Kira Fon­tana with evoca­tive Turk­ish pop mu­sic of an old-fash­ioned fla­vor.

The re­lease of this film can serve as the feel-good chill pill many of us are crav­ing, but it also func­tions as an an­ti­dote to the bar­rage of anti-cat ar­ti­cles that have been ap­pear­ing lately. Yes, cats kill birds — al­though if that is your is­sue, you will note that they are no match for the seag­ulls of Is­tan­bul. Yes, it would be bet­ter if they didn’t re­pro­duce unchecked. But look at the rich­ness cats of­fer in re­turn. “Pet­ting a cat gives me a pe­cu­liar sense of se­cu­rity,” says one of the film’s hu­mans. “Even though we don’t speak each other’s lan­guage, we im­me­di­ately form a shared lan­guage. I imag­ine hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with cats must be a lot like be­ing friends with aliens.” This pa­tient, gen­tle film brings us closer to ap­pre­ci­at­ing the wis­dom of the man who ob­serves, “If you can en­joy the pres­ence of a cat, a bird, a flower … what can I say, all the world will be yours.”

Boule­vardier: Psikopat, “the Psy­cho”

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