(a “no stray is a stray” film review by Timothy J. Verret)
I see a lot of films that warm my heart. This happens because I tend to search out those films that I know will warm my heart. But I have to say that in all the searching for and watching warmhearted films, I have not seen anything, at least recently, that has warmed my heart quite as warm as KEDI (2017).
KEDI, which means “cat” in Turkish, is a full-length documentary about the stray cats in Istanbul, Turkey, and how these same stray cats have touched the hearts of many of the human residents there. Of course, there are some residents who completely ignore these stray cats (sound familiar, America?), but for the ones who take notice of these stray cats, “no stray is a stray.” This is because these cats have taught these residents what it means to survive in the face of much upheaval, what it means to love and be loved back, and what it means to “entertain angels.” I cannot let that last one get away without this Bible verse that seems to fit perfectly into any cats’ paws: “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrew 13:2). This is EXACTLY what happens in KEDI, i.e., some human residents showed hospitality to strangers (stray cats) and, thus, entertained angels. They only realized this when these “strange angels” (stray cats) loved the human residents right back. And the stray cats didn’t just love the residents who took notice of them right back….no, the stray cats also healed the residents. Take the man who had a nervous breakdown and it was only his feeding of many, many stray cats that he found his purpose in this world. Or the man who was dirt-poor and needed to fix his boat, and it was a stray cat who “pointed” him in the direction of a wallet where contained inside was the exact amount of money the man needed to fix his boat. Or the woman artist who found the isolation of such a profession just a little bit more tolerable by the company she kept of stray cats she allowed in her studio. This is what warmed my heart so much about KEDI: The capacity of animals to heal us! This has been my VERY EXACT story in my life, and it has become my “heart mission” to heal all animals as they heal me right back.
I have to admit my cat, Conrad, and my dog, Blue, did not like KEDI as much as I did. That’s because of all the “meowing” throughout the film, especially when the stray cats were being fed. Conrad looked around to make sure his territory of my home was not invaded by these cats Conrad deemed anything but angels. Blue turned his head from side to side from the meows, seemingly desiring to go into the TV and play with the stray cats. Maybe Blue was just tired of his only company he keeps being the very illusive Conrad. I guess Blue was looking for more cats to shun him as Conrad does for the most part. So, if you have dogs and cats, you may wish to exclude them from the watching of KEDI, unless you are looking for a great film to enjoy with your furry family. KEDI is a purrrfect family film. Forget Disney or any other film made in America that chooses to spin a “soft humanly yarn (cat pun intended).” KEDI is soft, sure, but it’s really a film about how some human residents of Turkey made these stray cats part of their own family, and you can’t get more of a family film than that!
I want to address the many times I wrote “stray cats” in this review of KEDI. I didn’t do this for any other reason than to broadcast with much desperation how we are to NOT view any stray animal as a stray. No animal we would deem a stray is indeed a stray, for God has given us all animals to be OURS. I have said this time and time again that if we are to have dominion over God’s Animals, then ALL animals are OUR animals. So, there should be no utterances like “that stray cat needs to stay out of my garden” or “if that stray dog comes in my yard one more time, I’m gonna kill him!” No, you won’t kill that stray dog because it’s not YOUR yard and, no, the stray cat doesn’t need to stay out of your garden because it’s not YOUR garden. It’s OUR yard and OUR garden. We share this world with animals, whether we want to or not, and hence all animals belong in this world as much as we belong in this world. If God didn’t want this, God would not have put animals here in the first place. And God would NOT have said after He created animals, “and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:25). God seeing that animals are “good” means you don’t get to chase the stray cat out of God’s Garden and you don’t get to kill the stray dog in God’s Yard. I know some might say, “Timothy, enough with all this ‘animals are OURS!’ They’re NOT ours but if you want them, you can have them.” Thank you for that compliment, because I do want them and I always will want to have them on my heart. And I could also say to these some something very apropos for the animals, “Bite me!” 😎
The last 4 or five minutes of KEDI, I cried like a kitten in his mama cat’s arms. It was the most beautiful 4 or five minutes I have EVER spent watching a movie. As much of an animal lover as I am, I didn’t expect to get hit quite as hard emotionally as I did, but I suppose it makes total sense that a lover of animals such as me would have love hit him very hard. KEDI is completely captivating, hilarious and sad (BOTH, which is right up my “alley cat”), but the single purpose of KEDI is to show all of us how we are to view ALL stray animals as OURS, our friends and our confidants and, yes, how we are to entertain them as angels.
SIDE NOTE: In keeping with the holiday season of giving and getting, I’m not one who likes to give or receive gifts unless they come from the heart. I particularly like to give or receive gifts that are created by hands and took some time to bring these gifts into existence. That said, if I know you well enough to give you a gift, don’t be surprised if you look into your Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas) stocking to find a gift from me: KEDI.