Pop open the catnip and get ready to go viral–the 2nd Annual Internet Cat Video Festival arrives in Long Beach, California tonight, and to The Echo in Los Angeles tomorrow evening. In addition to a jam-packed roster of clips from the year’s most Internet-famous felines, the festival also promises “cat-centric art,” “celebricat” cameos, and more. I chatted with event host (and Henri le Chat Noir creator) William Braden about the furry film fest.
How do you think the Cat Video Festival will translate in Los Angeles? Do you think the cat-fan community is as vibrant and eager there as it is in Minneapolis, where the festival was first launched by the Walker Art Center?
I’ve had the chance to see the reel now in a dozen cities and it always goes over well. That’s really the best part, for me, just seeing the universal appeal. If we’re in a small rock club in Oakland with the beer flowing, or we’re in a huge performing arts center in San Luis Obispo with a bunch of families making an evening of it… it always sends people way with a smile. I expect the California shows to have their own vibe, but I’m sure it will play well.
Is there a certain point when an internet cat video transcends the status of ‘light entertainment’ and becomes art?
I think our go-to answer when asked if this is art or not, or if any specific cat video is art, is… “Maybe?” Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. Just as everyone has a favorite video, or responds to the videos in a different way, people are free to make up their own minds as to whether it is art or not. Certainly there are some videos that, on their own, are just silly and not particularly artistic, but when you organize them all together? Perhaps…
My two cats Uni and Chloe run a website called www.shitmycatsread.com. (They once interviewed James Franco!) So far there’s no real ‘video‘ component to what they do, but that’s not entirely outside the realm of the possible. What suggestions might you offer them if they were aiming for inclusion in the next edition of the festival?
Keep it short and sweet, make sure there is some universal appeal, and try to make the funniest bit come right at the end of the video so people are more inclined to share it and forward it along to friends.
There’s no Internet Dog Festival. What do you think it is about cats that just makes them, well, better than dogs, at least in terms of their viral lovability?
Dogs have dog parks! They walk around on leashes and meet other dogs and other people and it’s already a very social thing. Cats and their owners have these universal experiences, but they have to share them and appreciate them more often online. The Internet Cat Video Festival is about taking that virtual experience into the “real” world, and making a social event out of it. We like to say that it’s not just about watching cat videos, it’s about watching cat videos together.
Main image: Shameless guest appearance by Uni and Chloe Zola Volcano of Shit My Cats Read.