Get close to the stray dogs of Turkey as Elizabeth Lo’s camera becomes a canine companion, guiding us through a cross-section of Istanbul society as lived by our four-legged friends.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
First Kedi (NZIFF 2017) brought the stray cats of Istanbul to the big screen. Now their Turkish canine counterparts get a turn in the spotlight in Stray, a dog’s eye-view of life at the margins.
Filmmaker Elizabeth Lo spent two years shooting the adventures of Zeytin, Nazar and other furry fighters scrapping their way through the streets, foraging for treasures in the trash and finding unlikely friends. Eschewing narration and clinging closely to its subjects, Stray catches dogs harassing food vendors, crashing women’s marches for a quick root, eavesdropping on cafe patrons and being shanghaied as unwilling dance partners.
While Stray contains no shortage of heartwarming and hilarious moments, it doesn’t shy away from the grimmer realities of street life. As dogs bond with young Syrian refugees living in similarly precarious conditions, the transience intrinsic to both sides is never far from mind. But Stray doesn’t overplay its hand as a social issue film; rather, it embraces all sides of the canine lifestyle, giving equal airtime to pooches lounging about on sunny days and relieving themselves in public. — Doug Dillaman
“I wanted Stray to be told entirely and truly from a dog’s perspective – and not an anthropomorphic projection using animals as a vehicle as so many other films have done, but truly be about trying to use the medium of film to represent a dog’s life.” — Elizabeth Lo
“Stray doesn’t editorialise, but lets us notice. It treats us as if we were as smart as Zeytin. Take that as a compliment.” — Danny Leigh, Financial Times