As some might know, Beyoğlu Sinema is going to be closed on June 30, just like other locations at Taksim where we and generations before us have spent their lives. Before the cinema’s closure I went there to watch a movie named “Kedi”, which is the Turkish word for “cat”. Cats that live on the streets are one of the trademarks of Istanbul, which one encounters every day. The film is a documentary of the cats’ lives and their relationships to the people that surround them.
After having a conversation with Buket Güreli during the day me and my friends wanted to meet up in the evening to have some drinks. We were complaining, however, about the decline of Taksim’s structure due to the recent closing of locations. It was as if the old,well-known vibe this area was gone. This is the reason why many people avoid coming to Taksim. Now, wherever you look you see people from different countries who have undergone the procedure of adding new hair to their scalps, begging children, retail-frenzied men and women. You can smell the suffocating smoke of the nearby shisha cafés and see never-ending construction work as well as locations which are proof of a declining culture. After hearing our reasonings Buket stated that; “if you distance yourself from Taksim it will continue to get worse. This place bears a unique culture which is going to resurface again”. This is the reason why I am still visiting Taksim.
This issue is rooted in a system that is anti-progressive and is promoting demolition and robbery. It was against this existing routine that the protestors of the Gezi Park protests voiced their displeasure. Erdoğan, who was the prime minister of Turkey at the time was targeted during the protests while passing through a street. The protestors were inhabitants of the Taksim and Cihangir neighbourhoods in Istanbul. The next day, the city council immediately ordered for the tables of nearby cafés and bars to be removed from the streets. Simultaneously, laws that restrict the cigarette intake in public were introduced which caused an immense outrage among the people of Istanbul. Bars were forced to close since the number of visitors declined drastically due to the new rules; the locations that were opened instead lured another clientele. Of course, one cannot blame a “protest” for the changed circumstances. In actuality, the basis is an ideologic idea. Intolerance against individuals whose lifestyle does not suit one’s own.
It was recently that Beyoğlu Cinema announced that “under these circumstances we cannot pursue our aim to add spice and zest. Beyoğlu Cinema which was opened in 1989 will close on June 30. We hope that there will be people who will be able to find again the spice and zest amidst the blandness and monotony that we can barely accept”. Beyoğlu Cinema was headed once before towards closure in 2013. With the support of Başka Cinema however, it was able to be maintained for four more years. Again, one can hear the rumors about the cinema being once again saved by a supporter. Who knows if it is true or false? But even if it is true: Is it enough to save something just for the sake of its existence? In my opinion, the answer is clear: No. Because WE are not there.
In my last entry, I introduced you to my old and fat cat named Çılgın and described the benefits of living with her. Just at that time while passing Beyoğlu Cinema a film named Kedi caught my attention. It was not too long ago that I went to Beyoğlu Cinema, however, this time around it felt different. I entered a place that maybe will never be opened again for the purpose of watching a movie which deals with one of Istanbul’s most significant trademarks. We went in, bought our glass of tea and waited for the film to be shown. Approximately 20 people watched the movie with us.
The movie was produced as a documentary in 2016 and was directed by Ceyda Torun. It focuses on cats as one of the oldest inhabitants of Istanbul and the people they live with. Living in various districts of Istanbul with all kinds of people, cats are shown to represent the different characteristics of the humans who live in the respective area.
You can watch cats that do not have to worry about food hunt mice just for fun, ones that turn from cowards to lions for their young; jealous partners fighting or you can see the “fisher”. One can watch the neighbourhood’s most important characters as well as in which way they touched their human’s live at Beyoğlu Cinema right now.
Let me finish the article with a wish: I hope that Beyoğlu Cinema will somehow manage to remain open.