Kedi – Nine Lives: Cats in Istanbul

This documentary follows several of the street cats that live in Istanbul and the people who care for them. Istanbul has had street cats for generations and generations, with the cats becoming a vital part of the city’s culture. There are thousands of street cats that roam the city and some of the people there have developed a deep love for them.

While the focus remained on the cats, several people are interviewed about specific cats and how the street cats have influenced the city. There are moments of love and beauty – it’s incredibly clear that those who were interviewed love all the street cats. The people all speak of what the cats have brought them, including one man who spoke of having a nervous breakdown in 2002 and taking care of many street cats is what saved him. Another man rushed a kitten off to the vet after he had been attacked by a larger cat and one woman spoke of how taking care of many of the cats helped her take care of her own emotions and mental health.

The film also touches on how the city’s changes and developments are impacting the street cats and in turn, the culture of Istanbul. It speaks to how humans have impacted the street cats alongside how they’ve influenced us, showing how our relationships with animals are mutual. What we do and how our own cities develop have consequences for the animals in this world, whether we see it or not.

Honestly, it’s not just the cats and the people who love them that make this film amazing. The cinematography and music allow for an intensely beautiful understanding of this side of Istanbul and allows for the film to flow from one minute to the next. It’s graceful, subtle, and quiet, much in the same ways that cats are. And because of all that, this film manages to find a balance between documentary, travel montage, and love letter to our relationships with animals.

This film reaffirmed my own love and deep appreciation for animals, especially cats. My own day job allows me to spend a whole lot of time with animals and honestly, they’re a large reason why I get out of bed each morning. Watching Kedi reminded me even more about the often unconditional love that cats will have for you and how we as humans impact this world in ways we might not realize.

If you can and especially if you love cats, I definitely recommend going to see Kedi.

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