TURKEY - USA 80 MIN
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.
Born in Istanbul, 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.
- BAFICI, Argentina 2017
- Vilnius Film Festival, Lithuania 2017
- Göteborg Film Festival, Sweden 2017
- DocPoint - Helsinki Documentary Film Festival, Finland 2017
- Asian Film Archive, Singapore 2017
- Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada 2016
- Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia 2016
- Sheffield Doc|Fest, United Kingdom 2016
- Seattle International Film Festival, USA 2016
- Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, USA 2016
- iF Istanbul Film Festival, Turkey 2016 and more...
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.
Closing Night Film 2017