We have a special guest post from Denise DiBetta our roving reporter who covered #CatVidfest Oakland and interviewed festival curator and Henri Le Chat Noir filmmaker Will Braden. She and friend Nikole Halaka are Cat Video Festival Super Fans who criss-cross the country attending #CatVidfest events. Last week they hit The Walker Center in Minneapolis and we have their exclusive inside scoop.Dibetta’s story and images were edited by Layla Morgan Wilde.
The Inside Scoop of #CatVidfest by a Super Fan
Because Nikole and I both share the goal to engage in as many cat video events as possible, there was not a moment’s hesitation in our decision to fly from where we live in the San Francisco Bay Area, back to Minneapolis in order to attend the ‘mother ship’ of cat video events – the annual CatVidFest on the open field at the Walker Art Center! As humans we have thousands of words that we can use to express happiness, but truly, the only appropriate descriptor to define the collaborative vibe of the 10,000+ people in attendance on Thursday, August 14th was PURR!
We arrived at the Walker about 4 hours prior to the start time of the video presentation, but we were far from being the first ones there. Many cat adoring folk had arrived long before us, to enjoy each other’s company and to stake out strategic vantage points from which to watch the show. The people-watching opportunities were endless, as many came disguised as frisky felines in honor of the occasion. Celeb-cats were on hand for casual meet & greets, and we were thrilled when the one and only Pudge and her human made an appearance! We also ran into Grant Mayland, who played a small but very memorable role in Vice’s “Lil Bub and Friendz” movie, which was released in 2013.
(We flew all the way to Chicago to see it at the Metro Theater when it first came out…have I mentioned that we are dedicated celeb-catsupporters?!)
Once we finished strolling the open field, we sought out Will Braden, creator of Henri, le Chat Noir, and producer of the video reel that is shown at the CatVidFest events. For those who have had the good fortune of meeting Will, we can universally agree that he is about the nicest, most gracious guy on the planet.
After some catching up, Will introduced us to Paul and TJ, lovingly known by cat video enthusiasts as “The Engineers”. And by the way, they really are engineers. They used to work together for the same company, however they are now ‘geographically separated’, Paul resides in Kansas, and TJ in Texas. Let me tell you, if you like to laugh, and enjoy spirited conversation with two adorable men, then these are the guys you have just got to hang out with! Being a huge fan myself, I asked them if they would mind sharing some insights on future video projects. Turns out they’ve got big plans in store for a video featuring the concept of “cats and the evolution of technology”. The conclusion of the video is going to be a real surprise…but don’t expect a spoiler alert here, I was sworn to secrecy, and I promised them I wouldn’t tell a soul what they’ve got up their sleeves!
You might be interested to know that the videos that these two brilliant gentlemen make are shot in Paul’s home, using a camera of roughly the same vintage as the home’s décor. Paul had his camera with him, and we enjoyed the privilege of watching him in action as he captured some footage of Lil Bub and her amazing Dude, Mike Bridavsky, as they made their way around the open field.
Just after dusk, the video reel started, and for approximately 70 minutes all that could be heard was collective laughter, oohs and awes. The reel was comprised of all new material, and I must say, that while some of the ‘Vintage’ footage was a little lost to me, most of the videos were mind-blowingly good, especially those in the ‘Animation’ category, which I had not been impressed with last year. But alas, there could be only one winner of the Golden Kitty Award, and right after the videos ended, Will Braden, the recipient of the Golden Kitty last year for his masterful work in ‘Henri 2, Paw de Deux’, took the stage to announce this year’s taker of the coveted award.
And the winner?!! The 2014 winner of the coveted Golden Kitty goes to 8 Signs of Addiction by the popular Sho Ko. The short and sweet videos feature a black cat named Shorty and a black and white cat named Kodi. In the winning video, Shorty displays the all too common addiction for a ‘nip nana from Yeow.
The video was definitely well done, and the award very well-deserved. I watched it quite a few times prior to seeing it at CatVidFest, and I can honestly say it caused me to laugh out loud every time.
“The Engineers” came in at second place for their genius efforts in “An Engineer’s Guide to Cats 2.0, The Sequel”, which is actually a personal favorite of mine. In fact, I do have to say that when their video was shown, the audience’s reaction to it was as intense, if not more so, as the reaction to “8 Signs”.
We were sitting with Paul and TJ when Will Braden announced this year’s winner, and both of them took the news in stride. They were happy with their placement, and were very congratulatory towards the winner. Everyone was in a celebratory mood after the event, and the after party was taken to ‘The Local’, where we all indulged in appetizers and libations until it was closing time.
Later on Paul blogged:I think ALL people who make and/or appreciate cat videos are winners. TJ and I are just proud to be standing amongst giants and honored by the recognition from such a prestigious institution that promotes the art of the cat video and brings such a diverse community of feline enthusiasts together in an inclusive and inviting setting to celebrate the shared love of this new and dynamic digital form of global entertainment and distraction. Thank you one. Thank you all.
To that I say, Paul and TJ, you are definitely winners, and there’s another chance for you to take home the Golden Kitty Award next year. You know you’ve got our votes.