Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the streets of Istanbul, neither wild nor tame.
This is the story of seven of them.
For millennia, cats have roamed the city of Istanbul. Granted freedom and respect, they wander in and out of people’s lives, an essential part of this rich and proud city.
Claiming no owners, they live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame. They bring joy and purpose to those they choose to adopt, acting as mirrors to the people of Istanbul and allowing them to reflect on their lives in unique and touching ways.
Observing the lives of seven very different cats, and the people who know them, Kedi is an enlightening and heart-warming examination of one of our oldest animal companions, and the ways they enrich our lives.
The Cast of Cats
Appearance — Yellow-and-white tabby: yellow eyes, slight figure and on the short side
Gender — Female
Profession — Hustler, Mother
Location — Galata Tower
Traits — Doesn’t give a sh*t, begs, steals, forages, persistent
Nicknames — Yellow, YellowSh*t, The Hustler
Appearance — Grey-and-white - green eyes, a little chunky around the waist but stands with the posture of an aristocrat
Gender — Male
Profession — Foodie, Gentleman
Location — Nişantaşi
Traits — Paws at the window when hungry, never begs or goes inside, demands proper delicatessen, dives in dumpsters
Nicknames — Smokey, Gent, Foodie
Appearance — Grey/brown tabby, emerald eyes, curls her paws whenever she stands still
Gender — Female
Profession — Lover, Mother, Family Member
Location — Karaköy
Traits — Super soft, loves to be petted, purrs a lot, mother who defends her young viciously
Nicknames — The Lover
Appearance — Long-haired, black-and-white - lime green eyes, sometimes grimy when out of the sewer
Gender — Male
Profession — Hunter, Fish Connoisseur
Location — Kandilli
Traits — Hunts rats, eats fish, loves a good scenic view, sleeps all day, hunts at night
Nicknames — Little Lion, The Hunter, Guardian
Appearance — Short-haired, black-and-white, green eyes, hefty figure and sweet eyes
Gender — Male
Profession — Neighborhood Man, Lover, Baker Location: Cihangir
Location — Cihangir
Traits — Vicious claws, sideways stance, boss of his street
Nicknames — Happy-Go-Lucky, Carefree, Player
Appearance — Short-haired, black-and-white, green eyes, walks with an attitude; she’s got a piercing stare and a defiant gait
Gender — Female
Profession — Jealous Housewife, Neighborhood Psychopath
Location — Samatya
Traits — Fierce, doesn’t shy from confrontation, assertive, no bullshit, demands respect
Nicknames — Psycho, Neighborhood Psychopath
Appearance — Grey-and-white tabby, green eyes, youthful and energetic
Gender — Male
Profession — Mascot, Young Trouble Maker
Location — Feriköy Organic Market
Traits — Young and youthful, sleeps on market stalls, hassles cats and customers alike
Nicknames — The Social Butterfly
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, blackcats, 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.
- Ceyda Torun, Director
Born in Istanbul, Ceyda spent her formidable early years among the street cats while her mother worried she’d get rabies and her sister worried she’d bring home fleas. After her family left the country when she was eleven, Ceyda lived in Amman, Jordan, and ended up in New York for her high school years, never encountering a street cat. Ceyda studied Anthropology at Boston University, returned to Istanbul to assist director Reha Erdem and then off to London to work alongside producer Chris Auty. She returned to the US and co-founded Termite Films with cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann and has since directed her first feature documentary. She still misses her feline companions, gets excited whenever she sees a cat on the streets of Los Angeles, but they rarely feel the same way about her.
Charlie never imagined that he would one day be lying on the streets of Istanbul getting on eye level with cats, human shoes and car tires in order to shoot a documentary. But after founding Termite Films with his producing partner Ceyda Torun, it became clear that a film had to be made about the Cats of Istanbul. Before this adventure, Charlie graduated from the London Film School with an MA in cinematography, after which he began shooting music videos, commercials, and documentaries in his native Germany and all over Europe. In 2009 he moved to Los Angeles permanently and has since shot the narrative feature films Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, Blood Moon and A Country Called Home. He loved every minute of shooting Kedi and can’t wait to go back to Istanbul.
Always a great admirer of the independent spirit of felines, Kira fell in love with the idea behind Kedi. Intrigued to learn of the millions of street cats in Istanbul and the special bonds they create with humans, Kira was delighted when director Ceyda Torun approached her to write the music that would help bring these magical stories to life. Kira strove to create an ethereal sound world that reflects the role cats play as both mirrors to the main human characters, and as observers of the city's ever changing nature. Kira earned her BM in Composition from the Eastman School of Music, and her MM from the Yale School of Music. Her main composition mentors were Steve Reich, John Adams and David Lang. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she is an active composer and songwriter.
Austrian-born M(e)o(w) Stoebe is a an editor, animator and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He started his career in motion graphics and editing in commercial post-production where he contributed to title sequences for films such as Ridley Scotts Black Hawk Down as well as edited over 100 photofilms with six-time World Press Award winning photojournalist Gideon Mendel for UNICEF, UNAIDS and Actionaid. Mo’s feature documentary editing credits include the award winning Out in India, State of Control, One Minute To Burn and Kedi; he holds an MA in Communication Design from the Royal College of Art in London.
John Keith Wasson
John Keith (JK) Wasson is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who helped develop and co-produced Kedi. His directorial debut, Surviving Hitler: A Love Story, premiered on the BBC and Netflix, won awards at Full Frame Film Festival, Ojai Film Festival, and the Kroll Fund. He directed the documentary Tricked (Netflix). He also worked as cinematographer on the Sundance Film Festival darling The Devil Came On Horseback, a documentary about the genocide in Darfur.