Following the charming cats in Istanbul documentary ‘Kedi’, the latest addition to the Turkish vérité quadruped-verse is a melancholy but tentatively hopeful study of three stray dogs, Zeytin, Nazar and Kartal, as they wander the capital.
Turkish law prohibits the capture and euthanizing of stray dogs, leaving them free to move freely and become part of the communities.
The undoubted star, Zeytin is a smart and independent female with soulful eyes, roaming the Istanbul night-time streets is search of scraps. Nazar is more affectionate and quick to make human friends. Kartal is a shy puppy who is adopted by some builders when he wanders onto their site. The dogs’ lives intersect when they encounter kindred spirits, a trio of Syrian refugee boys, also living off their wits on the streets.
The camerawork (also from director Lo, who doubles as a cinemaphotographer) is remarkable, ranging from soulful extreme close-ups to nimble dog-level roving as it tails the characters through crowded squares and deserted streets.
Meditative and profound, the picture, in its own unique manner, provides a sympathetic window into the human condition, as we observe through canine eyes quotidian human life, the foibles, minor triumphs and disappointments. Life can be hard for animals and humans alike but there is kindness here too.
The drama is wittily interspersed with quotes from the dog-loving Greek philosopher Diogenes.
Stray is out now. A virtual ticket purchased from the film’s website will help support local cinemas with Whitley Bay Jam Jar & Hexham Forum Cinema included.
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm