My name is Ceyda Torun, the director of the Turkish documentary film about cats, “Kedi”. Had I known that producing this film would result in my imprisonment, I very likely would not have made it. But what’s done is done, and now I have to live with the consequences.
I continue to encourage everyone to see my film, proceeds from which will go to my legal fund. In the meantime, I am writing this review of my own film in the hope that it may aid in my defence.
The claim which the AKP regime has made is that my cat documentary is “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”. While this claim might appear bizarre, this is actually quite difficult to refute in the Turkish context, as a clear precedent has been set that everything good and hopeful and joyful in Turkey is in fact “propaganda for a terrorist organisation”, and accordingly punishable by imprisonment.
Therefore, I have no recourse but to resort to post-structuralism.
Erdoğan would concede that terrorist propaganda does not become such through the act of writing, but through the act of reading. It is by the intervention of the reader (the reader in question of course being Erdoğan) that terrorist propaganda emerges as such. But what Erdoğan doesn’t realise is that this understanding of textuality is derived from the writings of famous Frenchman and non-Muslim Jacques Derrida.
The French, for their part, have long been aware of Erdoğan’s post-structuralism. The fact that Erdoğan is ignorant of his own post-structuralism might appear at first glance to be a major obstacle to using post-structuralism to free myself from prison. But this would be an ignorant structuralist error: In the false binary between scholars of French philosophy and non-scholars of French philosophy, we must privilege the non-scholars before we can arrive at the truth beyond this oppressive binary, the truth being something vaguely Fichtean.
I can understand why Erdoğan would see in my film many signifiers which indicate HDP-like values that are of course terroristic to articulate. The film contains women talking about their alienation in patriarchal society, workers being humanised and allowed to speak, and most horrifyingly of all, the implication that massive construction projects are not necessarily improving İstanbul.
I can certainly see why the authorities would view any film which depicts the social life and values of İstanbul society as being predicated upon concern for the well-being of others instead of the profit motive as dangerous communistic propaganda, an obvious recruitment ploy by the HDP and their various subversive affiliates.
If I were in Erdoğan’s shoes, I would certainly ban this film, arrest its director, and probably kill several dozen cats just for good measure.
But meanings shift, and signifiers are ultimately meaningless. While it is a well known fact that cats are a symbol of Devrimci Karargâh (who recently united with DKP), they are also a symbol of the famous dancer Adnan Oktar. The same signifier can signify multiple, contradictory things. And while clearly it is up to the viewer, and more specifically Erdoğan, to determine the meaning of my film in the context of the layers of meaning that led up to my film, it is also the case that if Erdoğan rewatches my film, he will be able to overcome the subversive elements which he thought were so essential on first viewing. In a new context, my film may be about something entirely different.
Consider the theological motif in the film. What could be more wholesome than ordinary İstanbullular discussing the piety of cats, a species known to have been beloved by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)? We even had a fisherman who used the word “kâfir”! Viewed in a particular context, my film could practically be an advertisement for the Türk-İslam sentezi for YouTube cat video-addicted gâvurlar!
While I understand the offence caused by having a film in which women wear dreadlocks or laugh in public must have been great for our president, I hope that he of all people understands that interpretation of my film, like anything else, is continuously deferred, and that perhaps now might be an appropriate time to focus on its more theological themes and let me out of jail?
Our president is the most committed to différance of any in the world. Praised for his piety and constantly to be heard referencing God, he does so with the full knowledge that even this supposed transcendental signifier is in a constant state of flux, and may be interpreted however the AKP needs it to be. I too am willing to opportunistically use religion for my own personal ends, in this case, being allowed out of the prison that I, like thousands of others in Turkey today, was so hastily thrown into.
In conclusion, I wish to assure readers, particularly the judge who holds my fate in their hands, that my film “Kedi” is not communist propaganda.
I mean, come on, nobody even speaks Kurdish in it.