The growing phenomenon that is the Internet Cat Video Film Festival reached Brooklyn’s hipster enclave this past Friday evening. If you’re not up on what’s being tagged the CatVidFest, the premise is simple and alluring: Pack a concert venue with a bunch of people and let them watch giant projections of cat Internet videos in unison. Entertainment ensues.
I was at the sold-out Brooklyn event, which prefaced the main show-reel of cat videos with a couple of special surprise guest appearances. Here are my personal highlights of the night.
Leo the Lion is known for fronting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movies, but for the Internet Cat Video Film Festival’s show-reel he was replaced by an adorable lil’ kitten!
An early short segment ended up being one of my most endearing memories of the night. In the simple footage, an inquisitive cat wiggles and struggles his way into a vase head-first. Once inside, he begins to realize that he’s stuck. Classic cat video material.
The amount of crazy cat costumes (or even accoutrements) on display in the crowd definitely veered toward the low side — sometimes those frolicking on the hip side of Brooklyn are a little too po-faced to throw on their cat ears. The lady on the left here though moved slinkily through the crowd — and even had a video of her re-creating Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in cat attire broadcast before the main event.
The best booth in the venue came courtesy of the people over at Giphy.com. They lined up a bunch of feline props (masks, ears, plush cats) and let people cat around for a camera. Moments later their shenanigans were turned into an eight-frame GIF thanks to the mysterious marvels of technology!
One of the more bizarre segments involved a project that asked people to replicate the noise they think their cat makes. The sounds were peculiar, the super-close-up footage even more so. Behold:
Lil Bub may be an Internet phenomenon, but I’m not sure big crowd events are the right place for a cat with such afflictions: Her onstage appearance was prefaced with a request for the crowd to refrain from making any sudden loud noises and an explanation that the dinky four-pound cat has osteopetrosis. What followed was a muted reaction to a tiny cat being held up on a large stage. To be honest, I’d have preferred to see Arthur and August, the fabled New York City subway kittens, strutting it up to a hometown crowd.
Henri, on the other hand, is a true marvel on the big screen. The endearingly morose cat with the existential one-liners seemed like the superstar of the night when projected to a crowd.
The creator of the black-and-white shorts, William Braden, also put in an appearance. He recapped how the Henri series came to life when he was procrastinating while at film school and good-naturedly quipped how Henri has become his “best friend and meal ticket all in one.” Also! He revealed that Christopher Walken is apparently such a fan of the sullen feline that he’s been known to make interviewers watch Henri videos before speaking to him. That’s a power move.
Similar to cat-in-a-vase, often a short and straightforward video of a cat doing something ridiculous wins out: Here one plucky feline attempts to square up to a hairdryer in full flow. Guess the winner.
There were a smattering of vendors around the venue, including a line of official Internet Cat Video Film Festival t-shirts and posters. I’d definitely consider them fine and respectable modern cat tees.
Yep, more short and snappy tomfoolery, this time with a puffy fluff ball chowing down on that staple of cat cuisine, a slice of watermelon.
Sometimes there is nothing better than seeing a terribly freaky but oh-so-serious portrait of a cat on a huge projector screen. Henri would no doubt approve.
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.