Kedi is all about cats, but it bears no relation to those stunt videos that go viral online or an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos. This disarming documentary explores the lives of seven felines who inhabit the streets of Istanbul and the humans who care for them. Filmmaker Ceyda Torun doesn’t anthropomorphize her stars or (to the best of my knowledge) manipulate the footage she has shot, much of it from a cat’s-eye level.

In tracing the way these animals have insinuated themselves into the lives of the men and women who care for them, Torun tells us a lot about the individuals—and the human species overall. The participants include a fisherman, an artist, a restaurateur, and a fruit vendor. They speak openly and unselfconsciously about their relationship to the cats, who are a vital part of their daily lives but aren’t house pets.

According to the movie’s press notes, “When first conceiving the idea, what enticed the filmmakers most was the uniqueness of how street cats are treated  in Istanbul, not too dissimilar to cows in India. For the largely Muslim population, cats have a somewhat holy reputation, being  referenced  multiple times in stories surrounding the  prophet  Mohammed. Compared with the  more  sanitary approach of Europe and the US where cats who are not claimed by humans are captured and put through a system, and the seemingly  indifferent  approach of the Asian and  Arabic  nations, the communal approach of the residents of Istanbul to caring for street cats while allowing them to retain their independence offered a new way to understand the culture of this city. Turns out, it offered a new way of understanding how we approach life.”

Yet the film plays as well as it does because we can relate to both the humans and the animals. Some of the people interviewed believe that cats absorb negative energy and inspire a kind of peace that is beneficial to their lives.

I should state flat-out that I am not a cat person, but this film won me over all the same. Cheers to Ceyda Torun, editor Mo Stoebe, and cinematographer Charlie Wupperman for creating a film that is steeped in charm and simple wisdom.

If you live in Los Angeles, the filmmaker will be making personal appearances and answering questions at the following theaters this weekend:

FRIDAY, 2/17

2:00pm – Ceyda Torun at the Arclight Hollywood

5:30pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

7:50pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

9:20pm – Ceyda Torun and cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann at the Arclight Hollywood


1:00pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

3:20pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

5:30pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

7:50pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

9:15pm – Ceyda Torun and  cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann at the Arclight Hollywood

SUNDAY, 2/19

1:00pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

3:20pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

5:30pm – Ceyda Torun at the Royal

7:00pm – Ceyda Torun and cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann at the Arclight Hollywood


Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024