Stray: A Cinema Lovers Best Friend
In 2017, we screened a film called Kedi. A beautiful documentary about street cats living in Istanbul: an exploration of a stunning city seen through the eyes of its fluffiest inhabitants. It was also one of my first Q&A screenings as part of Showroom’s programming team. I remember, because I gave up my ticket to the sell-out screening so a customer could watch the film and took a spot at the back of the cinema instead. I loved that film, not only for its distinct feline characters, but because it felt like a lyrical love letter to the humans that cared for them and the city that shapeshifted around them over a number of years.
Stray, a new documentary from filmmaker Elizabeth Lo, feels like Kedi’s spiritual cousin. Set again in Istanbul, Stray lopes around the city’s population of stray dogs, mainly filmed from a pups-eye-view. It’s remarkable how much you can see and come to understand about a place and its inhabitants by spending some time roaming with these dogs. We overhear snippets of conversations about relationships and politics, as we meander through heavy traffic, bustling streets, construction sites and protests. In a time when I’m feeling more than a little cooped-up, and travel further than the Peak District looks like an impossible dream of the future, wandering the streets of Istanbul with the dogs of Stray was a total luxury. Lo reveals a rich tapestry of a distant land, where you can see the sights and hear the sounds, but the smells and tastes are also not so far away.
If you’ve got pets at home, Stray is sure to be a family favourite. Though a self-proclaimed dog lover, I live in a cat household. My grumpy 10-year-old tabby, Jasper, was enthralled for the full 72 minute run time. (He’s an indoor cat and particularly enjoyed the howls of the streets on his otherwise restful Saturday morning.)
Stray is available to rent from home, with the option to support the Showroom with 50% of the rental cost. If you head over to our website, we’ve got a whole host of films listed that give you the option to support us through rentals. I chose to write about Stray today because it feels like a lovely pick for the Easter weekend. Kedi is a little more difficult to dig-out, but if you’re after a pet-friendly double-bill, it appears to be available through YouTube’s premium platform (for which free trials should be available).
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 1 April 2021.