Skip to Content


Directed by Elizabeth Lo

Cast: Kartal, Nazar, Zeytin

After the feature, enjoy a FREE bonus recording of the live Q&A with director Elizabeth Lo, recorded on 10/27/20. 

* Limited tickets available.

Best International Feature, 2020 Hot Docs International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2020 Tribeca Film Festival

Diogenes, born in what’s now called Turkey, was known for imitating dogs, even pissing in the streets whenever he pleased. His philosophy, cynicism (roughly “dog-thinking”), was a way of being totally engaged in the city, claiming nothing outside of its social thrum. STRAY finds his spirit in the incredible stray dogs of urban Istanbul, documented over the course of two years by Elizabeth Lo.

Our guide through the busy streets and hidden paths of the city is Zeytin, a charismatic mutt who mixes gentleness and openness with a streetwise knowledge of when to fight and when to show her belly. The network of humans and animals she maintains–for food, protection and friendship–is a rich, ever-changing map of Istanbul’s overlooked and invisible. Perhaps her closest friends are a group of homeless refugee teens, who resort to stealing a dog from a construction site in order to find the comfort and intimacy that a canine companion brings. As the film suggests, they too are spiritual descendents of Diogenes.

Elizabeth Lo’s previous films Hotel 22, Bisonhead, and Mother’s Day (Best Documentary Short, SDAFF ‘17) considered the lives of homeless, displaced, and imprisoned people in the US. She brings all this empathy, intelligence, and skill to STRAY–up to and including the film’s heart-stoppingly beautiful final shot. 

And in case you’re worried (I know I was), rest assured: all the dogs make it through okay.

–Lev Kalman