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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Istanbul's street dogs offer lessons in empathy, compassion, friendship, unconditional love.
Positive Role Models
Zeytin, Nazar, and Kartal provide Istanbul's citizens with an outlet to express love, kindness, empathy, compassion. The young refugees who befriend the dogs return the compassion and kindness by taking care of them.
Violence & Scariness
A protest scene shows armed police officers. Zeytin and another dog fight in the street.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild sexual humor and situations, particularly regarding dogs in heat.
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Language includes "s--tface," "s--t," "motherf----r," "f--k," "a--hole." Ableist terminology like "stupid."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Mentions of sniffing glue and doing drugs. Smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Stray is a documentary that follows three stray dogs as they encounter the citizens of Istanbul, Turkey. There's some strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k") and mild sexual humor/content, particularly regarding dogs in heat. The film also has scenes involving Turkey's sociopolitical climate that include protest footage, political discussions, and footage of unhoused refugees' lives. But the featured dogs also provide Istanbul's citizens with an outlet to express love, kindness, empathy, and compassion. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Directed and edited by Elizabeth Lo, this film is a must-see for dog lovers and documentary fans alike. Filmed between 2017 and 2019, Stray is calming yet provocative. The three featured dogs bring out kindness in Istanbul's citizens, even while the city faces political unrest, including the 2017 women's rights march and the rise of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party. The dogs also provide an outlet of support and a family for young refugees who fled the Syrian civil war only to end up living on Turkey's streets.
The boys featured in the documentary aren't the only Syrian refugees who have become unhoused in Turkey after fleeing their home. They face constant accusations of being "glue sniffers" and are often lectured to go home or find a job. And they complain to each other about how the government won't help them. Their predicament is juxtaposed against that of the dogs, who have also been under attack by Istanbul's government, which tried to kill them until the citizens rebelled. With both sides wanting love, companionship, and acceptance, Stray exemplifies how common kindness and understanding are much more important in life than petty divisions. The film also showcases how the core of humanity is good: If a city can rise up to protect its street dogs, imagine what good the city, and others like it, could do against other ills that face us as a human collective.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.