Let’s just stipulate that cats are adorable, and that a documentary that did nothing but observe cats being adorable could find a ready audience. But director Ceyda Torun does a little bit more in her study of the hundreds of thousands of stray cats living in Istanbul, Turkey, and some of the humans who grow attached to them. Torun does a fine job of turning her feline cast members into authentic characters, following them with enough attention to detail that they develop distinct personalities—the “neighborhood psychopath,” proud and aloof delicatessen denizen Smokey, etc. More emotionally affecting, though, is the sense of communal responsibility for these cats taken on by the citizens of Istanbul, many of whom feed or provide medical care out of their own pockets. Beyond simply addressing how a connection to animals provides people with a sense of purpose, it feels like an allegory for people thinking about homelessness—seeing not just an impossible-to-manage mass problem, but making connection with individuals deserving of care. It’s a glimpse of humanity at its best, turning its compassion outward.
Director: Ceyda Torun
Producer: Ceyda Torun, Charlie Wuppermann, Gregor Kewel and Thomas Podstawski