i can haz film fest? internet cat video film festival comes to long beach

LilBub

Internet superstar and 2013 Internet Cat Video Film Festival Hall of Fame honoree Lil Bub. Photo courtesy of LilBub.com

Following its 2012 debut in Minnesota, the Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Film Festival has grown into a nationwide tour and will be making its Long Beach stop at The Federal Bar this Friday.

nyanThe prominent Minneapolis-based contemporary art institution—known more for Andy Warhol and Matthew Barney than for Colonel Meow and Maru—opened the festival to some 10,000 cat-goers last year. Originally an idea of Walker Program Associate Katie Hill, the museum found that the festival would fit well within its Open Field Initiative, a program that revolves around experimental public exhibits and programming.

The festival, at least in terms of online popularity, makes sense: cats are the absolute, uncontested rulers of the Internet. From Grumpy Cat (whose Facebook page has over 3M likes and counting, and has spawned countless memes) to the smartphone app Catwang, cats have ruled the digisphere since the early days of Usenet.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 3.23.02 PM2013 marks the organization’s second foray into the internet kitty world after sifting through 10,000 online nominations vying for awards in multiple categories, including Comedy, Drama, Foreign, Animated, Musical, Documentary, and the coveted top prize that is the Godlen Kitty Award. Newly added categories include the inaugural Hall of Fame—it includes seven honorees: Keyboard Cat, Nyan, Henri: Le Chat Noir, Lil BUB, “Kittens Inspired by Kittens,” Maru, and Boots and Cats—along with the Minnesota-inspired “Cat-on-a-Stick” category.

Last year’s Golden Kitty winner—“Henri 2: Paw de Deux,” a French art-house send-up featuring the aforementioned Henri: Le Chat Noir—documents the existential crisis of black-and-white Henri in black-and-white film. His tormented musings—“I live a life of luxury. My caretakers love me. But I feel empty,” he tells us through subtitles—has sparked an online store and a Random House book about his philosophical musings.

2013’s Golden Kitty Award winner is none other than the aforementioned Grumpy Cat herself, who appeared in Minneapolis with her pets, Tabatha and Bryan Bundesen, to grab her honor (without being impressed much).

This year’s festival will be 75-minutes of feline-filled madness, with 65 selected from the thousands submitted. The film is not, contrary to what some naysayers may think, a YouTube playlist compiled and projected onto a screen: organizer and curator Scott Stulen edited the entire reel into a what the Walker calls a fully-produced film.

HenriLeChat

Henri: Le Chat Noir contemplates life’s deepest troubles.

“This Festival is an ingenious, independent and alternative film program, and we’re pleased that the Long Beach Federal will be hosting this cleverly themed event,” says Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO Morgan Margolis. “It’s also a great pleasure to be supporting Minneapolis’ prestigious Walker Arts Center in bringing the Cat Video Festival to cities around the West Coast.”

The Walker Art Center’s Internet Cat Video Film Festival will be held on Friday, January 24, at The Federal Bar, located at 102 Pine Avenue. Tickets are $20 at the door, which will open at 8:30PM. The festival will begin at 9PM. For more information, click here.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food to politics to urban transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 12 nominations and an additional win for Best Political Commentary. Born in Big Bear, he has lived in Long Beach since college. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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