On July 11, Greg Mayer posted an announcement of the upcoming Internet Cat Video Film Festival (ICVFF) in Minneapolis; it was to take place on August 30, and last exactly one hour (cat videos are short). I also asked any readers in the area who were attending to send a report. Well, we lucked out, and an ailurophilic reader went to the ICVFF and has provided a first-person report.
Before I present it, let me note that the ICVFF received huge media coverage: unlike the handful of people expected to turn out, nearly 10,000 people showed up, and there are long pieces about the screenings (and the winning video) in The New York Times, The Atlantic, HuffPo, and elsewhere (see the great slide show at boston.com). As the NYT reports:
The crowd — easily double what organizers expected — packed the lawn outside the museum, spilling onto the sidewalks across the street. There were local cat lovers and out-of-state fans of Fluffy; many wore kitty-theme T-shirts or simply ears and whiskers. Some took real cats on leashes. A few dogs came, for irony.
They all settled in for a screening of cats behaving badly, or cutely, or mysteriously, sometimes all at once. That much of the audience had already seen the clips on YouTube did not seem to diminish the enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.
There were about 10,000 entries of which 79 were shown. (The entire playlist of those 79 is on YouTube at this link.) That’s a success rate of 0.79%, far more selective than Harvard University. And one video, which I’ve shown before, was the paws-down winner. But first, the reader report (with links and photos), by Zach Buchan:
My excellent adventure at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival
by Zach Buchan
On Thursday evening, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (which is probably best known as the home of Spoonbridge and Cherry) held what was billed as the world’s first Internet Cat Video Film Festival. According to a speech given just beforehand by one of the organizers, when they first conceived of the idea they figured that it would turn out to be 18 people huddled around a laptop. Instead, they had somewhere around 5000 people [JAC: actually, twice this] packed onto the hill behind the museum, watching an hour of cat videos on a 20-foot-tall screen. They also worried about finding enough cat videos to fill up an hour’s worth of time, but then the press attention surrounding the festival (including this very website) led to them getting ten thousand entries! They watched every one, which is the sort of job I wish I could get.
The festival consisted of 79 videos broken up into nine different categories: Comedy, Drama, Foreign, Animated, Documentary, Musical, Art House, Lifetime Achievement, and People’s Choice. All were collected from YouTube, and they ranged from the extremely popular (Nyan Cat has 83 million views, Surprised Kitty has 64 million) to the extremely obscure. Purring Face, which competed in the Art House category, only had 71 views at the time of submission. Island Cat, from the Musical category, had 47.
It would be difficult to pick out a favorite just from audience reaction. There was a huge round of applause when Stalking Cat (Drama) finally reached his target. Keyboard Cat (Lifetime Achievement) and Simon’s Cat (Animated) were also very popular. But those are also some of the most viewed internet cat videos of all time, so people may have just been reacting to old favorites. The biggest laugh for a little-viewed video was probably for Little Cat Provokes Big Cat (Drama), which only has 14,000 views, but which deserves more.
The least popular are much easier to find. The whole Art House category was poorly received. There were really some weird videos in that one. Slow Motion Kitten is interesting, but is two minutes long, and really seemed to drag. Schoenberg is a decent composer, but atonal classical music as played by cats was mostly just confusing. The Art House category concluded with a video called Cat Puke (don’t worry – there’s no actual puking involved), which was apparently edited especially for the event. It was extremely unpopular, as evidenced by the number of people you could see checking their cell phones.
The evening concluded with the awarding of the first ever Golden Kitty award to the winner of the People’s Choice category. Will Braden was there in person to collect for his video Henri 2, Paw de Deux. It’s a wonderful video which tells the story of one cat’s existential ennui. Going in, I thought there’d never be a cat video I loved more than a Maru one (Maru was represented twice at the festival, once in Foreign and then again in People’s Choice), but I was wrong. Henri 2 is really just that good.
If you were unfortunate enough to not be able to attend, you can watch the whole show on the Walker’s YouTube stream, and then tweet your favorite nominee for a “Best In Show” prize. Details, including a complete list of the entries, can be found here. Turnout for the event was so overwhelmingly high that I’m sure they’ll do another one next year. Buy your plane tickets now, and be sure to shop for your Sky Mall Kitties!
Thanks to Zach for this report, and the many readers who wrote in and sent me links. And now, the winner, which you’ve seen here before, “Henri 2: Paw de Deux”:
And here’s a question I’d like to post to readers. In the U.S., at least, dogs are about as popular as cats for pets. Yet cat videos, not dog videos, have become the internet phenomenon. There is no dog as famous as Maru, no dog video film festival. Why, do you suppose, is that?