The enchanting Turkish documentary Kedi works triple time as a nature documentary, a travelogue, and a meditation on the human-animal bond. Once upon a time, Rome was the ancient city famed for its population of street cats. Then in the 1990s, the cats were relocated to Julius Caesar's former stomping ground, Largo di Torre Argentina, a no-kill sanctuary (the 2007 documentary Cats of Rome tells the story). Now they're largely out of sight—at least that was my experience when I visited in 2009. Over the course of five days, I spotted exactly one stray slinking around the Roman Forum.

Director Ceyda Torun makes a case for Istanbul as the new Rome for stray cats. When she isn't soliciting the thoughts of caretakers and observers, her cinematographer, Charlie Wuppermann, shoots the furry subjects from ground level such that they fill the screen while humans fade into the background. These street-smart cats congregate around teahouses and markets for treats and back rubs. Torun follows several around town, like the orange tabby that steals food for her kittens, the gray tabby that sleeps in an auto shop, and the black-and-white cat that chases mice from a restaurant. She exalts these hardy creatures while portraying Istanbul as a city of compassionate citizens. It's a side of Turkey we don't see often enough. recommended