Director: Ceyda Torun
Cast: Bulent Ustun
Language: Turkish with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Turkey-USA 2016 80 mins. (U)
Released by ICON
Hundreds of thousands of Turkish cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, the cats of Istanbul live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame — and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. Critics and internet cats agree — this cat documentary will charm its way into your heart and home as you fall in love with the cats in Istanbul.
A Letter to the Audience
For those of you who may not have visited Istanbul or know anyone from there, there are a few things you should know before watching our film.
Cats — tabbies, calicos, angoras, Norwegian forest cats; ginger cats, grey cats, black cats, white cats, black and white cats — all kinds of cats, roam the city, free, without a human master. Some fend for themselves, scavenging from dumpsters, living in abandoned buildings, others are cared for by communities of people, pampered with the best cat food and given shelter for the cold months. Cats have been a part of the city for thousands of years, and so, everyone who grows up in Istanbul or lives in Istanbul has a story about a cat. Stories that are memorable; sometimes scary, sometimes spiritual, but always very personal. Street cats are such a big part of the culture that when US president Barack Obama visited Istanbul, part of his tour included a stop at the Hagia Sophia to visit its famous cat. Cats are as integral to the identity of Istanbul as its monuments, the Bosporus, tea, raki and fish restaurants.
I grew up in Istanbul and I believe my childhood was infinitely less lonesome than it would have been if it werenʼt for cats - and I wouldnʼt be the person I am today. They were my friends and confidants and I missed their presence in all the other cities I ever lived in. This film is, in many ways, a love letter to those cats and the city, both of which are changing in ways that are unpredictable.
When we set out to make this film, I had many ideas about what it should be. I wanted to explore philosophical themes that would make an audience ponder about our relationship to cats, to nature, to each other... I hope the film succeeds in doing that but more importantly, I hope this film makes you feel like you have just had a cat snuggle up on your lap unexpectedly and purr endlessly for a good long time, while allowing you to stroke it gently along itʼs back, forcing you, by the sheer fact that you canʼt move without letting go of that softness and warmth, into thinking about things that you may not have given yourself time to think about in the busy life you lead.
Hopefully this film will be that cat for you, and that youʼll leave with a tingle in your hands