Both Slate and the New York Times have extensive reports on yesterday's Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Minneapolis. Basically the festival is this: thousands of people gathering outside the highly regarded Walker Art Museum to watch a curated collection of the internet's best cat videos.
The festival was first suggested by Katie Hill, a 28 year-old program associate at the museum, as a joke, but her bosses liked the idea. Soon, Hill was sorting through 10,000 cat video submissions - she claims she watched all of them - to find the best 65 minutes.
"It's like any other curation. You examine how form and content interact. You look for what's new and unique in the genre. If you watch enough shaky camera phone videos of cats, you start to see the distinctions."
The video above, "Henri 2: Paw de Deux," won the Golden Kitty, awarded to the people's favorite as chosen on the Walker's website. But unfortunately, Will Braden, the video's director (and owner of Henri) took the whole thing a bit too seriously. From the Times:
"This goes to show that the shared love of cat videos isn't just a virtual thing, isn't just a matter of a few clicks, but actually something people can share in real life," Mr. Braden, 32, said. "I think this legitimizes it."
Sure thing, Braden. But I can make fun of him all I want - dude is making bank off his cat "art."
A filmmaker from Seattle, he now makes his living from Henri, le Chat Noir, as he's called. There is an online store that sells $1,000 worth of T-shirts and mugs a week, he said, and a book - the philosophical musings of Henri - due from a Random House imprint.
There was some kitty cosplay. Several adults wore cat ears and face-paint whiskers. One woman had dressed up her orange tabby as Keyboard Cat. He hissed and jabbed at her as she tried to string a tiny cardboard piano around his neck. I asked why she loved cat videos, and she said it was because "the cats in them are so funny. My cat mostly just sits around and sleeps a lot."
In kitty ears and painted-on whiskers, Lindsey Frey, who is in her late 20s and works in marketing, sensed inspiration. "It's definitely made me feel like my cat does things I should go home and videotape," she said, adding, "The more videos you've seen, the more ‘queen of the cat ladies' you feel, so it's nice to see that people are with you."
Yes, it's an inspiration for us all.