A film by Andrea Luka Zimmerman
2013, 66 minutes
No. 019


Structured around readings by renowned critic and essayist John Berger, Taskafa offers a brilliantly incisive meditation on urban space and city life by investigating the complex history of Istanbul’s street dogs.

Despite several major attempts by Istanbul's rulers, politicians and planners over the last 400 years to erase them, the city’s street dogs have persisted thanks to an enduring alliance with widespread civilian communities, which recognize and defend their right to co-exist.

Taskafa gathers the voices of diverse Istanbul residents, shopkeepers, and street based workers, all of whom display a striking commitment to the well-being and future of the city’s canine population (a community of street dogs, and cats, free of formal ownership but fed and cared for by numerous individuals).

Interwoven to this narrative are readings by Berger from his novel “King,” a story of hope, dreams, love and resistance, told from the perspective of a dog belonging to a community facing disappearance, even erasure.

Taskafa is a moving testimonial to the inestimable value of non-human populations to the emotional and psychological health of the city, and a striking statement of witness both to advocacy and persecution across the centuries.

Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival
Official Selection, Art of the Real, Film Society of Lincoln Center

"This view into the daily lives of these dogs and people is intertwined with an evocative reading by Booker Prize-winning author John Berger... The poetry in the readings adds a meaningful dimension as we watch the dogs navigate their way and the result is a moving portrait of the human community that embraces, protects and supports them in recognition of the richness and wealth that they bring to city life. Recommended." - Educational Media Reviews Online