The city full of homeless dogs struggling to survive

You are on your own. Nothing happens to men like us because we live from day to day, ”a Chechen immigrant tells homeless Syrian children in Istanbul in Lost. Nomadic and uprooted existences are at the center of director / producer / editor / cinematographer Elizabeth Lo’s documentary, but humans are simply the peripheral players in this astonishing non-fiction investigation, which really does focus on some of the countless canines roaming the city streets. A companion spiritual piece to Ceyda Torun’s 2016 Kedi (which referred to the legions of cats that inhabit this same metropolis), Lo’s film reveals the secret life of dogs. In doing so, he draws great parallels between his world and ours, and our shared desires for sustenance, comfort, and companionship.

Following a 20th century in which authorities tried to exterminate animals (leading to mass killings), widespread protests have transformed the city into one of the few places on the planet where it is illegal to euthanize and hold any stray dog ​​captive, which it means that on virtually every sidewalk, in every alley, and near every garbage dump, canines congregate in search of food, fighting, petting and trying to survive. His is an unromantic situation, though not without its pleasures, and Lo’s camera assumes his perspective at all times, keeping a low position to the ground as he follows these dogs from side to side, down the bustling sidewalks where people He barely notices them, through the streets. where cars stop to let them pass, and on beaches where they are free to run, play and roll and occasionally turn curves and growl at unknown intruders.

Lost He focuses his attention on a trio of dogs, starting with Zeytin, whose striking tan color and large sad eyes make his movements as expressive as they are casual as he moves through the various districts of Istanbul. With a sometimes narrowed expression on her face and a slightly lower right ear than her left, Zeytin is a native inhabitant of this urban landscape, equally at home on its well-paved sidewalks, in its parks alongside busy avenues, and on stretches neglected mountainous land decorated with giant rocky outcrops and ruins of buildings whose columns still stand. Zeytin has a confidence that makes her a perfect guide to this environment, as well as making her popular with the locals, many of whom know her by name. That includes a collection of young Syrian immigrants living on the streets and, as we learned courtesy of random snippets of conversation, they are known to snort glue and are under constant threat of arrest by authorities.

Zeytin will soon be paired in Lost with the friendly Nazar and the black and white puppy Kartal, the latter of whom is left in the care of Syrian children after they plead with a local for one of their many stray dogs, and he agrees by telling them they can return by the night and steal one for themselves. The similarities between Istanbul’s dog and refugee populations are not hard to discern, and director Lo does not italicize or force such echoes, but allows them to materialize from the procedures in question. Through the careful selection and juxtaposition of scenes, she analyzes the struggle of animals and children to survive, their territorial disputes with others (whether with other dogs or tourists and police officers who prefer to keep the streets free of homeless youth) , and your longing for love or, at the very least, a warm body to snuggle under a blanket at night.

His film divides it with verbatim quotes about the nobility of dogs (mostly from the Greek philosopher Diogenes, around 300 BC), but otherwise avoids overt comment. Even human voices in Lost They are only heard in chunks and sometimes through distorted audio that is intended to mimic how Zeytin, Nazar, and Kartal might experience them. Those snippets of dialogue are sometimes comical (like comments about two dogs getting fucked during a women’s rights march), sometimes political (like when men argue about whether to vote for the Nationalist Movement Party), and then Sometimes as ordinary as a garbage truck. operator berating Nazar for not sharing a meaty bone found in the trash with Zeytin. This comment is generally an undercurrent, but nonetheless remains a key component of Lo’s observational examination of Turkish society’s pressing concerns, fissures, and treatment of those residing on its margins.

Lost is most evocative when he simply jogs alongside or behind his canine protagonists, capturing (and subtly mimicking) the swaying of their bodies, the rhythm of their gait, the curiosity in their eyes, and the potential cruelty of their circumstances, a fact conveyed by a splendid sequence in which Lo’s camera chases after Zeytin down a night street, almost losing sight of her, only for the euphoria of the moment (amplified by Ali Helnwein’s score) to be interrupted by a sudden outburst of dog violence against a suffocating dog. for Syrian children. At the time, the film acknowledges the thin division between happiness and brutality that defines these dogs’ everyday situations, as does the sound design (courtesy of Leviathan Y Sweetgrass‘Ernst Karel) doubles the combination of swirling noise – chirping birds, car honking, disembodied chatter – engulfing them as they wander from a dilapidated construction site to a shop entrance and a gray shipyard.


Lo’s portrayal of these wayward dogs is often melancholic, especially when it comes to Kartal, whose stomping acclimatization to these rough terrain seems, from the look in his eyes, to inspire a significant degree of unease. However, there are also moments of funny lightness, such as when Zeytin bumps into a cat hiding in a row of bushes in the park and, suddenly encouraged by this discovery, immediately chases after it. Lost He does not shy away from good or bad, documenting his four-legged subjects as they jump, spin, run, fight, chirp, grunt, sleep, and seek protection, food, and rest. The more you observe them, the more you take advantage of the universality of their experience, all without losing sight of the uniqueness of their character and their situation.

With perceptive neorealist grace, Lost allows your dogs’ actions in the face of neglect, neglect and abuse to speak volumes about their resilience and benevolence, their fierceness and compassion. In doing so, the film also says a lot about the men and women willing to help the less fortunate, and also about those who turn a blind eye to the creatures in need.


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