August 2nd, 2012
It’s not exactly your average film festival, but this might just be the Cannes of cat videos. The usually staid Walker Art Centre caused a stir when it announced the world’s first Internet Cat Video Film Festival, dedicated to showcasing the best feline flicks around. We asked festival programmer Katie Hill if there’s any method to the madness.
Why an Internet Cat Video Film Festival?
Why not? People love internet cat videos, so why not challenge the norm of this traditionally solo small screen viewing experience and bring it out in the open on the big screen on Walker Open Field?
Was it easy to convince the Walker Art Centre to do this?
The only way this even became an idea was within the context of their Open Field programming. It’s basically a creative mash-up of some of programming from us and the public focused around learning and collaborating. Open Field allows for experimentation, and that’s just what this is. In this case, an online community of cat video lovers are challenged to come out in the open and watch their favorite cats on a big screen together. It’s also an experiment for the Walker Art Center – a serious institution – to take itself a little less seriously.
Why do you think cats have such a huge appeal?
I think they are just hilarious and adorable. And perhaps more tolerant than dogs when it comes to putting up with human manipulation/staging. There’s also something universal about a cute kitten yawning or a funny cat jumping in and out of boxes.
What do you think distinguishes cute cat videos from cute dog/panda/etc videos, or are they basically the same thing?
Fundamentally they might be the same, but there’s a viral tendency towards the cat video for some reason. Perhaps it’s because cat-people don’t mind humiliating their feline friends for the sake of Internet fame?
Do you think Internet cat videos have any artistic value?
There are definitely different kinds of cat videos. There are those that are more about the cat just being a cat where the content is obviously more important than formal aspects of the video. Then there are the more artful videos with plots, characters and obvious art direction. So maybe some have more artistic value than others?
But that’s not the point of this festival, this isn’t a formally curated film event. We’re just playing with the most popular thing on the internet and seeing if we can bring an online community offline and to Walker Open Field to share an experience IRL.
If you could somehow create the cutest cat in the world, what would it look like?
This one’s a hard one. I love those munchkin kittens, but I’m also a sucker for a fat mean-faced Persian.
What’s your own personal history with cats? Do you have a cat?
I grew up with cats and dogs, curiously all named after photographers per my art-minded father’s insistence. So Callahan and Atget were my first foray into the feline world. Now my husband and I have our own little weirdos, Max and Ron, whom we adopted from the local Humane Society. I’m a bit of a cat freak on Instagram and always taking pictures of them, or #catstagrams.
Are you ever afraid of being a crazy cat lady when you get old, ala The Simpsons?
Of course. But one of my more immediate fears (now that this #catvidfest has gone viral) is that any potential future employer might google my name and all they will find is cat videos…
The Internet Cat Video Film Festival takes place on 30th August at the Walker Art Gallery, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. You can nominate your favourite cat videos to appear in the film festival.
Words: Zing Tsjeng