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15 Reasons to Attend an Internet Cat Video Festival

It’s back. A second edition of the tremendously popular Internet Cat Video Festival premieres Wednesday evening, August 28 at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. This has become so much more than an excuse to see cat videos projected in public. Here are 15 reasons to attend the Great Minnesota Cat-Together and its assorted shindigs. 15.  Cats. You […]

The world's first #CatVidFest at the Walker Art Center drew more than 10,000 people in 2012.

The world’s first #CatVidFest at the Walker Art Center drew more than 10,000 people in 2012. The second annual festival will be Wednesday, August 28 at 7 pm in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand.

It’s back. A second edition of the tremendously popular Internet Cat Video Festival premieres Wednesday evening, August 28 at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. This has become so much more than an excuse to see cat videos projected in public. Here are 15 reasons to attend the Great Minnesota Cat-Together and its assorted shindigs.

15.  Cats. You have them, you love them, you snap photos of them as they fall adorably off things. Come, be among your people. Join in one the largest gatherings of feline fans in the world.  This humble event has grown to be recognized around the globe, and we have a brand new reel of fresh videos to share with you.

14. Spectacle. Not so much into cats? Come for the primo people-watching. Visitors to last year’s festival were calling it “the new Burning Man” for good reason. You’ll also be treated to live performances by Brian Laidlaw and the Family Trade and the indefatigably upbeat Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

13. Swag. Pick up a sweet Golden Kitty commemorative poster or #CatVidFest tour t-shirt, or choose from an assortment of other limited-edition festival tchotchkes, and show off your keen eye for culture.

12. Kitty Cosplay. Dress up as your favorite real-world feline or Internet cat-lebrity and win prizes, plus a chance at seeing your whiskered self on Animal Planet’s website. Animal Planet will have photographers roving the audience during the event, looking for the best cat costumes.

Photo from the 2012 Internet Cat Video Festival, courtesy of the Walker Art Center

Photo from the 2012 Internet Cat Video Festival, courtesy of the Walker Art Center

11. DIY/DIT activities and opportunities to get schooled in the fine art of cat care. In the spirit of Open Field, the summer-long Walker Art Center project that spawned the Internet Cat Video Festival, there will be a number of interactive artist projects throughout the event, including live painting by local artist Rudy Fig, letterpress printing by Lunalux, and an interactive cat video project with San Francisco–based artist Maria Mortati. The festival will also include representatives from the local Animal Humane Society and Caring for Cats and other animal resource nonprofits to help educate attendees on a variety of cat-related issues.

10. Funny or Die favorite Julie Klausner will be there. The prolific New York–based comedy writer, performer and podcaster extraordinaire will co-host this year’s festival.

Comedian and writer Julie Klausner, creator and host of the podcast, How Was Your Week, will co-host #CatVidFest 2013.

Comedian and writer Julie Klausner, creator and host of the podcast, How Was Your Week, will co-host #CatVidFest 2013.

9. Pro-tips from An Engineer’s Guide to Cats creators Paul Klusman and TJ Wingard.

8. See international cat video stars who call Minnesota home. Pudge the Cat and Kittens Inspired by Kittens star Maddie Kelly will be in the house.

7.  Keyboards and Flying Pop Tarts.  With over 130 million combined YouTube views, Charlie Schmidt’s iconic Keyboard Cat and Chris Torres’ looping animation Nyan Cat took the cat video from viral ephemera to full-blown pop cultural phenomenon. Meet the original cat video stars who started it all.

6. We have a Butter Cat. In celebration of the Great Minnesota Get-Together and its traditions, #CatVidFest sponsor Animal Planet has commissioned the same butter sculptor who annually carves the likeness of the Princess Kay of the Milky Way to apply her talents to the cat theme. The complete sculpture will be revealed at the festival shortly before the screening of the reel. Here’s a time-lapse of its creation.

5. Lil BUB. BUB’s owner, Mike Bridavsky, will be at the festival this year. He’s turned his viral cat video experience into a new book: Lil BUB’s Lil Book: The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet, which will be released September 3.

The BUB himself. Courtesy of Mike Bridavsky.

The BUB himself. Courtesy of Mike Bridavsky.

4.  And the 2013 Golden Kitty goes to… Who will walk away with the #CatVidFest hardware? Last year, Will Braden’s now iconic Henri Le Chat Noir #2 took the coveted Golden Kitty as the People’s Choice Best of Festival. Click here to view the nominated videos for 2013. Award winners will be announced at the conclusion of the festival.

3. Grumpy Cat. The perpetually dour feline will be on hand to hate on everything deep-fried and on a stick, and to complain about the weather.

2. See tomorrow’s viral sensation today. We’re debuting several new videos, including a brand new clip by last year’s Golden Kitty Award-winner, Henri Le Chat Noir creator Will Braden.  (Spoiler alert: Henri has an encounter with the cat sitter. Angst ensues.)

1. It’s not about watching cat videos, it’s about watching cat videos together. One of the main reasons why this event has been such a success with audiences around the world is that it taps into a universal desire to gather together for the sake of sharing a sincere and joyful experience. You’re going to feel good about the world when you walk out of the Grandstand Wednesday night – we promise.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE:  If you don’t get your fill of cat happiness at the festival, we have more planned for the day following, including a book signingpublic lecture on the experience of going viral, and a #CatVidFest after-party at the (appropriately named) Kitty Cat Club. So, if you don’t get the perfect Facebook pic with our favorite cat celebrity, you’ll have a better chance to catch them at these more intimate events.

Related event information:

Internet Cat Video Festival 2013 will take place August 28, 7 pm in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand. Tickets are $10.

10 Questions for #catvidfest 2013 Co-Host Julie Klausner

JULIE KLAUSNER: Cat fancier, writer and creator of the hugely popular podcast, How Was Your Week Location: New York City Dayjob: Writer Online: http://julieklausner.com Twitter: @julieklausner Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your story? I live in New York City, and I make a living as a writer of all sorts of things, but mostly television […]

Creator and host of the podcast, How Was Your Week.

Klausner is creator and host of the podcast, How Was Your WeekShe is also cohost of this year’s Internet Cat Video Festival in the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand on Wednesday, August 28.

JULIE KLAUSNER: Cat fancier, writer and creator of the hugely popular podcast, How Was Your Week
Location: New York City
Dayjob: Writer
Online: http://julieklausner.com
Twitter: @julieklausner

Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your story?

I live in New York City, and I make a living as a writer of all sorts of things, but mostly television and occasionally books and articles. I love cats dearly. And dogs. I love animals, in general, and always have. They make me feel a very deep joy that isn’t a super-frequent occurrence in my life. I can laugh from my gut at an animal video when I feel unreachable otherwise.

How many cats do you own and what are their names?

I have one tuxedo cat, and his name is Jimmy Jazz. Before Jimmy, I lived with my beloved Smiley Muffin for 12 years. She was my heart. I miss her very dearly.

Anyone who listens to your podcast knows you’re a cat lover. Even your website’s filled with cats. What’s your personal history with felines? 

I’ve always loved cats, but I didn’t grow up with them because my mom and brother claim to be allergic. But the very same month I moved into my own place after college, I got a cat. And she was the source of endless fascination and entertainment — just watching her, enjoying her personality and proclivities. Dare I say, she was my muse.

Cats are beyond “cute” to me. They have a pompousness, a high-status inflection of “I’m better than you,” that truly makes me laugh. Because, in reality, they’re pretty dumb – they have half the frontal lobe intelligence of dogs, but they act like they’re smarter than humans. They get away with murder because they’re soft, essentially. Their faces are naturally set in this disapproving expression, and then they’ll do something ridiculous — like fall off a chair or collect pieces of garbage to hide behind your couch. The disparity between their intelligence and their affectation is just so deeply funny to me – so much unfounded confidence. They are also wonderful pets that you never have to take outside in order to facilitate their going to the bathroom, and that’s ideal for writers and lazy people who aren’t crazy about leaving the apartment when it’s raining. And there’s nothing quite like a purring cat curled up to you. It really does melt your heart like a hot knife through butter.

How did you first hear about the Internet Cat Video Festival

I can’t remember exactly when I heard about it, but it started popping up on my social media feeds, and I remember reading about it and thinking “I have to be a part of this.”

Both cat videos and the online brand you have established have proved to be far from fleeting phenomena.  What’s the future for this type of cultural production? 

It sounds cynical to say “more of the same,” but I mean it in the best possible way. Cats doing stuff will never not be fascinating to people who live with pet cats and who love cats (and there are a lot of us) – the more ordinary the scenario, the better. We like to see cats acting dumb and we always will. It’s hilarious and it’s adorable, and I’m not completely sure why. I guess there are people who collect photos of babies being silly; maybe it’s similar, only cats never grow up into adult humans.

This is a question we get all of the time, so we’re going to spin it back to you.  Are cat videos art?

I think it depends on the cat video and the context. Whenever you show something in a museum, the meaning changes. But I don’t think intention matters when it comes to art. Whether you clicked “record” on your phone to amuse your boyfriend, or you set the stage to make a masterpiece, the good stuff rises to the top like cream.

Mmm, cream.

You’ve produced a brand new video with Funny or Die that will premiere at this year’s festival: What can you tell us about it?

Well, I’m not a standup, so I always feel like I have to over-compensate whenever I go into live performances or hosting gigs — like I have to prepare a Powerpoint presentation, or a song and dance number to provide a good justification for why the hell I got the job.

So, I had this idea for a video [about the life of a cat video creator] and collaborated with Funny or Die, as well as with my pals Alex Scordelis and Jake Fogelnest, to make it. I got to work with a professional cat actor and his handler, and that was truly fascinating. Because pro cats are still cats. They won’t listen to you, even if they’re trained. They’re less skittish around people, I guess. But at one point, he was supposed to walk alongside me on a leash, and he was having NONE of that. It was completely cool, though – I picked him up and we had a lovely moment. But, yes. The moral of the story is: Cats are cats.

What are you working on now, cat-related or otherwise?

I’m writing for season three of [Funny or Die TV series] Billy on the Street and working on a couple of TV projects I hope to sell, plus a play I wrote and am rewriting. I do my podcast, How Was Your Week, every Friday [you can subscribe on iTunes!].

I’m also preparing for the next How Was Your Week Live at The Bell House, October 30, and another run of my cabaret show at Joe’s Pub the week before Thanksgiving.

What are your favorite cat videos?

I really loved Ze Frank’s Sad Cat Diaries, everything Henri has ever done, and Maru’s opus.

Any parting thoughts on the Internet Cat Video Festival and other such offline celebrations of cat video culture?

I’m all for it. It’s so fun and funny and positive. Anything that brings people together over cat videos – I’m in favor.

Related event information:

Internet Cat Video Festival 2013 will take place August 28, 7 p.m. in the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand. Tickets are $10. Find details: http://www.walkerart.org/calendar/2013/internet-cat-video-festival-2

The Internet Cat Video Festival hits the road

Cats are back! In reality they never really left.  Since last August, when the First Internet Cat Video Festival debuted at the Walker Art Center, the interest and intrigue with the program has only increased. Here are some “cat stats” to give context to the feline fim fascination. The Internet Cat Video Festival YouTube playlist is […]

Cats are back!

In reality they never really left.  Since last August, when the First Internet Cat Video Festival debuted at the Walker Art Center, the interest and intrigue with the program has only increased. Here are some “cat stats” to give context to the feline fim fascination. The Internet Cat Video Festival YouTube playlist is nearing a million views. Walker blog traffic for cat related posts has eclipsed 100,000, views, making it easily the most trafficked event in the past year. The cat related website traffic is actually so significant, it has skewed the overall yearly stats for the site.  Catvidfest has inspired “copycat” festivals by small groups such as the Somerville, Massachusetts Arts Council, and much larger organizations including the Friskies Awards and Fresh Step’s Catdance festival and the Internet love affair with cats shows no signs of slowing. Even the new Monopoly piece is a cat...decided by an online vote. Jon Stewart even had a few things to say about it on the Daily Show.

Its not just cute kittens jumping in boxes

What does it all mean? This was one of the recurring questions after the success of the first Internet Cat Video Festival. It wasn’t just about watching cat videos, it was about watching cat videos together and it was about watching cat videos together at the Walker Art Center.  Basically its about context. Watching cat videos with 10,000 in the shadow of a leading Contemporary Art Center is part of what makes it interesting.  To answer some of these questions in more depth we speaking at where the internet gathers offline, the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin. Our session is titled #CATVIDFEST: Is this the end of Art?  and co-organizer Katie Hill and I will speak to the fractious questions raised about the relevancy or ridiculousness of the event and the role of the curator in a crowd-sourced environment. Using #catvidfest as a case study, we will question what it means for a museum to reflect contemporary culture in the era of YouTube, explore the challenges traditional institutions face engaging online audiences and share what we learned from transforming a solitary online viewing experience into a real world social event. The session is kicking of the first day of SXSW and we anticipate a healthy discussion interspersed with cat videos. For more check out the recently posted interview new here.

Edited Crowd Sourcing

The original festival began with a simple  invitation to nominate your favorite Internet cat video.  Ten thousand nominations came pouring in.  After countless hours of screening and careful editing  the final cut was created.  It was vitally important to openly crowdsource the content, but equally important to refine, edit and pace the final cut to be compelling and entertaining. We are again taking nominations for the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival. So track down those browser bookmark, do some quality “research” on your lunch break or better yet break out the camera and make your own video. Click here for the Nomination Form to put forward your favorite kitty clips.

Here is one of my personal early favorites for the 2013 festival. Slayer Cat

catvidfest on the road

One of the most unexpected outcomes post-festival was the number of inquires to re-stage the event.  To date, over 50 inquires have been submitted from all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe.  Officially the “catvidfest tour” started last fall with smaller events at UMASS Boston and The Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego. The spring tour tour kicks off tonight at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art  with two already sold out screenings, followed by events in New York, Austin, Oakland and Portland all leading up to the 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival at the Minnesota State Fair.  As with the first #catvidfest, each of these festivals taps heavily into the community by partnering with local museums, cultural institutions, non-profits, animal resource groups and artist. To insure the context and spirit of the original festival is retained, we are working closely with each site to produce the festivals and learn further from this experiment. If you are interested in an event in your city, contact me.

Here is the Spring 2013 Internet Cat Video Festival Tour Lineup:

MEMPHIS: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
Thursday, February 14, 2013
6-9 pm with screenings at 7 & 9.

Spend your Valentine’s Day at the Brooks for an evening of art-making activities, feline-inspired performances by Opera Memphis, music from  DJ Superman, a cash bar, and two screenings of the Cat Internet Film Festival.

AUBURN, NY: Auburn Public Theater
Friday and Saturday, March 3-4, 2013
Screening Friday 8pm and Saturday 1pm and 8pm.

The Auburn Public Theater presents Cat Carnival, a weekend full of fun and games-all for a good cause. The Cat Carnival will be complete with face painting, trivia and games with kitty-friendly prizes fit for the whole family. The Finger Lakes SPCA and the CNY Cat Coalition will have tables set up with important information on the feline community both days. There will be a special talk by Scott Stulen from The Walker Art Center, one of the organizing members of the Internet Cat Video Festival and cats and kittens will be available for adoption!

AUSTIN, TX: SXSW Party and Screening with Animal Planet
Saturday, March 9th
 5-7 pm
Fado on W 4th St

A cat-loving happy hour to please, cat lovers, online cat video watchers and all things feline. Animal Planet and the Walker Arts Center join forces to provide entertainment, cat themed cocktails, and chances to preview exclusive new (what else) cat videos. This indoor-outdoor event will feature live music, a showing of the top videos from the Walker Arts Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival, previews of the upcoming season of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell and the exclusive premiere of a new “Henri” video. Special guest Jackson Galaxy from My Cat from Hell will also be in attendance.

OAKLAND, CA: The Great Wall of Oakland
Here is the event website…which is amazing!
Saturday, May 11, 2013 
2-10pm

The Great Wall of Oakland will host the Bay Area premiere of the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Festival with an estimated 10,000 cat-lovers and friends celebrating felines and exploring the low-art of internet cat videos together, in real-time. West Grand between Telegraph and Broadway will transform into a cat-lovers wonderland with cat-themed events in every corner, including animal adoptions. Festival attendees can peruse cat products from a host of local vendors, sample delicious food from local food trucks, and participate in a plethora of cat-themed activities including a cat fashion show, cat trick demonstrations, cat art projects, cat-themed bands, and much more.

PORTLAND, OR: Cataclysm: Portland’s Internet Cat Film Festival
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland OR
Saturday, May 11, 2–10pm

More info in the coming weeks and months.

Meow.

 

 

 

#catvidfest: Its Not About Watching Cat Videos. Its About Watching Cat Videos Together

As discussed in a post last month the Internet Cat Video Festival is continuing to draw interest and also several “copy cats” around the country.  The “Friskies” is one of the #catvidfest inspired events happening today in LA.  Its live streaming at 4:30 CST here if you are interested in watching the event. The commercial […]

As discussed in a post last month the Internet Cat Video Festival is continuing to draw interest and also several “copy cats” around the country.  The “Friskies” is one of the #catvidfest inspired events happening today in LA.  Its live streaming at 4:30 CST here if you are interested in watching the event.

The commercial variations of the #catvidfest were inevitable, but for us the more interesting outcome is that nearly all of the inquires about re-stagging the original event have come from other museums, art centers and cultural non-profits.  Why is this?  Its because they understand what the event was and is.  They understand the spirit in which it was conceived, the context of the event within the museum and most of all they understand that its not just about watching cat videos from the internet, its about watching cat videos together.

Its not just about the screening either.  To be successful its about creating a social space and inviting participation.  So you need food and drink, artist projects, music and a few making activities all situated within a comfortable space. Basically its the same formula we have demonstrated for the last three years with Open Field.   This is where the future of #catvidfest gets interesting.  #catvidfest got peoples attention and also introduced Open Field to a much broader national audience.  #catvidfest is our gateway drug. #catvidfest is creating opportunities to plant the seeds of Open Field around the country.  We are not only screening the festival by partnering with like minded institutions but raising questions of participation and crowd sourced content, starting versions of Open Field programs like Drawing Club in new cities and spreading a bit of joy.

Thursday night #catvidfest will be featured as part of POP Thursday at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego.  Along with the screening MOPA has a full lineup of related events around their first crowd sourced exhibition Soapbox! The Audience Speaks including:

There is even a contest for your to Submit your favorite cat meme (original or otherwise) for free tickets and drinks!  Sounds a lot like Open Field and we are thrilled to partner with MOPA and hopefully learn a bit from each others programming.

This is just the start.  We plan to announce the plans for #catvidfest and Open Field for 2013 in the coming weeks.  Look for more information soon and as always follow all the action on twitter @openfield

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