The city of Istanbul is overrun with stray cats, cats with no owners, hundreds of thousands of cats. Istanbul has always been overrun with cats even when you go back a thousand years; no one is quite sure why, but the cats have become part of existence in the city. This film spends a little time with a few of those cats and, by extension, the people who are part of those cats’ respective territories. It’s a wonderful, transporting documentary. It’s beautifully shot, capturing the beauty of Istanbul wonderfully and it’s a striking reminder that what we often think of as “the Middle East” is a lot more than just endless deserts. This movie gives you a bit of the same buzz as an online kitten video does, but as the film spends time with various cats, they really come alive and suddenly you find yourself feeling a lot more than just the pleasure of seeing something adorable. The human characters are likewise interesting and ultimately the film kind of becomes about the redemptive role animals play in our lives. There’s an artist who creates genuinely gorgeous artworks inspired by cats. There’s the burly fisherman that feeds the cats in his area because he considers it a kind of divine duty after a meowing cat once led him into an alley where he discovered a lost wallet stuffed with money. Young, old, men, women, rich, poor, all of these people find their lives overrun with independent, self-reliant cats and what could easily be seen as a nuisance is viewed instead as a gift and consequently these people have their lives enriched. I’m not even a cat person, but I found myself really moved by this documentary. It’s just a pure pleasure. 4 stars.
tl;dr – documentary about cats that overrun Istanbul is cute, inspiring, transporting, beautiful and surprisingly moving as it explores the intersection of human & animal life. 4 stars.