The Turkish cat documentary Kedi opened Friday in one New York theater, where it broke records and scored the top per-screen average of any movie in current release. With a 100% perfect (or is that purrfect?) rating at Rotten Tomatoes and what the theater reported as 21 sold-out shows, this little four-legged sleeper about the felines of Istanbul looks to be a breakout hit. It already has scored the best per screen of any documentary released this year or even in 2016. Oscilloscope, which opens the film Friday in L.A., followed by a national rollout, understandably is excited about this one, just as much as my own cats Thelma and Louise were when we watched this delightful documentary from director Ceyda Torun.
It really is a wondrous achievement, a miraculous tale of a city and its kitties that dives into the mysteries and joys of cats and the humans who love them — or at least put up with them. The docu is almost as much about the city of Istanbul as it is about the hundreds of thousands of cats who have roamed its streets for centuries. Beautifully shot with cat’s-eye-view camerawork, Torun gives us the story of this fabled Turkish city from the POV of those felines (the English word for the film’s title) and their interactions with the loving human residents who seem completely sympatico.
Throughout the course of this 79-minute docu, we meet all sorts of cats — from those who frequent the fish markets and bakeries to those who prowl their neighborhoods and protect their turf. This is about as humane a portrait of a city as I have seen, and as I say in my video review (click on the link above), that is because it focuses on the unique connection we and these creatures have with on another.
So is it better than a cat video? You bet. Torun has taken this footage and given it touches of drama, humor and, most of all, heart. The people we meet along the way are just as engaging as the cats, and the fact that they can co-exist so peacefully for so many years is encouraging to say the least. With the globe in turmoil, the portrait this director paints is like a place out of time, and it is a welcome respite from the ills of the world, however brief.
A special shout-out here to the outstanding camera work from Alp Korfali and Charlie Wuppermann and editing by Mo Stoebe. Kira Fontana’s nifty musical score is just right as well. Torun and Wuppermann are the producers. This is one to check out even if you aren’t a cat lover. You just might be after the unique experience of Kedi, a remarkable cinematic triumph that ought to have audiences purring for more.
Do you plan to see it? Let us know what you think.