Dir: Ceyda Torun.
80 mins, 2017, Turkey
You don’t have to be a cat-lover to enjoy this charming documentary on the street cats of Istanbul; you just have to be interested in people.
How sweet the humans are: the fishers and fishmongers, the market stall-holders, the shop-keepers, the cafe-owners, the women and men, young and old, each one convinced there’s something very special about the cat that has decided to graciously share some of its life with them. In some cases it’s cats plural rather than just one cat. We see so many kittens, surviving often through the kindness of humans as well as the fierce skills of their mothers, you’d think the city would be overrun with cats. But it seems that after a millennium of watching over the Bosphorus as human empires rise and fall around them, the cats are now under threat.
Ceyda Torun follows six or seven of the cats on their daily rounds of eating, sleeping, fighting, thieving and giving pleasure to their ‘owners’ and to passing pedestrians, many of whom treat the cats as a gift, or blessing. She shows them as an integral part of Istanbul, and in many striking images she allows us to see the city and its busy sea-life through its feline inhabitants’ own eyes, as they slink across tiled rooftops, crouch on ledges high up on mosques and churches, play on the waterfront, or help a boatman and his dog on a fishing trip. Yes, dog-lovers, you’ll enjoy this too.
Muffet: The views of the city were entrancing, but the film was perhaps a little long considering it didn’t have much of a narrative. But all those cat-loving old men were delightful. And if you like cats you’ll be glad to see how well they’re looked after. They all appeared sleek and healthy.