HomeNews & Views Foreign Flick Friday: Turkish Film Introduces the Cats of Istanbul

Foreign Flick Friday: Turkish Film Introduces the Cats of Istanbul


Come for the breathtaking sunsets and maze-like streets, or for the portraits of cats so close you think for a moment you can actually touch them. Stay to learn how the city, its people, and these thousands of cats each play a role in the others’ stories—all told in the beautiful Turkish language.

As a little girl in Istanbul, Ceyda Torun loved spending time with the street cats. Neither strays nor pets, the felines that roamed her beautiful city have belonged to the community as a whole throughout history. But they were more than part of the scenery for Torun—the cats had played an important  role in shaping her childhood identity:

“I had a debt that I owed to these cats [after] growing up in Istanbul and them being really, genuinely my best friends for between the ages of 6 to eleven. I would say I didn’t really even have human friends, I had cat friends. I didn’t really acknowledge or realize how special that was.”1

Returning to Turkey and her hometown as an adult, the filmmaker was delighted to see her furry friends’ sustained presence. And from this, Kedi was born—a new documentary which follows seven specific cats throughout the city, unveiling their secret world to us frame-by-frame.  Each of the seven “cast” members has a unique personality: Aslan Parçasi, “the hunter”; Sari, “the hustler”;  Duman, “the gentleman”…

Of the cats, Torun explains:

“They were the one constant element, becoming synonymous with the city itself and ultimately, embodying its soul. 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.”2

What she quickly realized during filming was that the connection between the cats and people from all walks of life was the real story she was trying to capture: “It transcends us as people and transcends even cats. It’s bigger.”3 Indeed, watching this trailer for Kedi, several of us on the Lead with Languages team were reminded of special cats we, too, had encountered while living abroad. Cats in Greece, in the South of France, and elsewhere: They make appearances in many of our favorite stories and memories.

{{Looking for ways to boost your language skills while watching films & shows? See our inaugural Foreign Flick Friday post for tips.}}

Since its 2017 U.S. release, American audiences from coast to coast have joined those worldwide in their praise for this heartwarming film. It’s available to watch on YouTube Red and will continue to appear on select big screens throughout the summer (find a screening near you).

It’s movie night, so grab the popcorn and watch this trailer with us. Then tell us what you think @LeadWLanguages on social media.

Working on your Turkish skills and seeking resources to help you make progress? Or new to Turkish and wishing you could understand Kedi without the subtitles? Check out our Lead with Turkish page for university programs, scholarships, blogs, and more! You can also learn more about Kedi on the film’s website.  

foreign flick friday banner