Cat people: 'Kedi' filmmakers share tales from making their worldwide box office hit
Director Ceyda Torun on one feline who didn't make final cut: 'She looked a lot like Sylvester but in a very feminine and charming way'
As I'm writing this my cat Brewster lounges nearby on his kitty couch. He's got one eye opened warily -- perhaps suspecting my thoughts have drifted to other felines -- namely those in the hit documentary Kedi.
On Tuesday night I ventured out of the house -- and temporarily away from Brewster's company -- for a private screening of Kedi in West Hollywood, with director Ceyda Torun and producer/cinematographer Charlie Wuppermann on hand. Afterwards they discussed their film, one of the most successful docs of 2017 with $2.8 million in revenue from North American theaters.
My greatest pastime and occupation as a child was to hang out with these street cats.
Kedi takes a cat's eye view of the city of Istanbul, where felines and humans have intermingled for more than a thousand years. These cats numbering in the tens or hundreds of thousands don't have owners per se, but they appear to live comfortably, for the most part, with their fellow mammals.
Torun and Wuppermann told the audience they spent under three months filming in Istanbul -- a remarkably short period of time given how much evocative material they collected. With the help of an advance team of cat researchers they identified a cast of characters to follow, including Sari, Duman, Bengü, Gamsiz and Psikopat (the Turkish word for "psychopath").
These are the top quotes from the filmmakers at the Q&A.
I had the luxury of spending my childhood with so much time that I could actually follow a cat around for days. It gives you such a different perspective about life and about the animal that you're 'stalking.'
My greatest pastime and occupation as a child was to hang out with these street cats. In March you'd hear them screaming on the rooftops mating and a few months later you'd hear the little meows in the bushes in the backyards of the apartment buildings and go kitten hunting and find them and try to take care of them.
I grew up with a dog so I needed some working on.
Istanbul is very crowded so [the cats] are really used to people. Los Angeles street cats, if you see them, they're really shy. They run away. These guys, they don't care.
What I appreciate most about cats is that because we really haven't manipulated them too much -- and hopefully won't in the future -- they really are aware that we're monkeys.
A lot of people were a little bit shy about seeing themselves on screen. But in the end they were quite pleased with the praise they were getting.
We had the rule that if the cat would run away [that meant] it wouldn't give its consent, so we wouldn't continue filming.
It has very embarrassing behind-the-scenes stuff of Charlie and I dressed as cats.
In honor of International Cat Day, Kedi will return to screens this Sunday (October 29) in Hollywood, New York, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington DC, Anchorage, Alaska and other cities (details here). It's available for streaming via the YouTube Red subscription service. The DVD will be released November 14.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.