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Cat video film festival

It's no secret that cats are big on the internet. From time to time videos of other animals might 'go viral', but cats are definitely the animal stars of the internet. Almost everyone who has ever been online has seen at least one of the net's endless supply of cute cat pictures and cat videos.

Cat videos are standard fare on web video sites such as 'youtube', and the most popular are watched by millions of viewers, often repeatedly. Advertisers are getting the hint that cats sell product, so media advertising these days has cats selling much more than just cat-food and litter.

In September 2012 the cat video phenomenon came to its logical conclusion with the very first Internet Cat Video film festival. The festival was staged on August 30 at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (The Walker Art Center is one of the leading contemporary art museums in the United States. )

When Katie Hill, a program associate at the museum, first suggested the cat video festival she did so almost as a joke. A few moments thought, and then the idea became a real initiative - Katie's bosses decided that in fact a cat video festival was just the sort of thing that the Walkerís 'Open Field Initiative' calls for. Naturally Katie (now unofficially known as 'The Walkerís crazy cat person in residence') was given the job of organizing the festival.

Through July cat video enthusiasts were encouraged to suggest their favourite videos. If it was not clear before that cat videos are a massive phenomenon, it became clear now. Nominations flooded in - more than 10 thousand of them. From cute cats, cats getting into predicaments, cats doing silly things, cats looking happy, sad or simply awesome, the organizers eventually emerged from the screening process with slightly stunned expressions and a shortlist of 79 videos to be screened at the at the Walker Art Center. The video finalists had their products merged into a ninety-minute compilation and the public were invited to free evening showings. The Walker Art Center even made an exception to its usual rule and welcomed well-behaved cats who took their humans to the festival. (Although the organizers asked humans and cats remain connected by leashes at all times and warned that the litter boxes would not be available.)

And the public came enthusiastically. The organizers were somewhat overwhelmed but ecstatic by a turnout which was several times larger than they expected. In their thousands, people packed the lawn outside the museum, and overflowed on to the sidewalks across the street . Most were local cat lovers but many out -of-state fans of things feline made the trip. They were indeed a few cats in attendance and even some dogs as well (perhaps the dogs wanted to find out what the fuss was about). The evening was an overwhelming success.

The shortlisted videos were (naturally) divided into nine 'CAT-egories': comedy, drama, foreign, animated, documentary, art house and honorable mention. The full playlist is on the Walker Art Centerís YouTube channel here:http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC0B137D835A3C970

So who won the very first of the coveted 'Golden Kitties'? After much debate and deliberation the People's Choice Award was announced at the festival. The proud winner is : Henri 2, Paw de Deux, by Will Braden. Mr. Braden is a filmmaker from Seattle. Henri, the feline star, was already an internet phenomenon who provides much of the Mr Braden's income. In the video the depressed Henri muses on life and the existential tedium of being. He is a black and white cat, so of course his winning video was shot in black and white - in the best tradition of French film (chat) noir.

Amateur and professional cat video film critics could appraise the video for themselves here

and give their vote for the 'Best in Show' award by posting their choice via Twitter. (see how:http://blogs.walkerart.org/mnartists/2012/08/30/catvidfest-vote-for-best-in-show/ ). The winner was to be announced on the 7th of September.

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