Cat video fans need worry no more. Not only will the Walker Art Center’s biggest hit of last year return, it’s going to be bigger, and at a new historic venue – the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand.
“We had high hopes for it, but I think even we were surprised by the amount of people turning out” said festival producer Scott Stulen. He says the cat video festival has gone from strength to strength, drawing interest from round the world.
“I’ve fielded over 50 requests from other cities and actually other countries to restage our festival at other sites,” Stulen said Wednesday afternoon. Even as he spoke he was getting ready to head to the airport to present the festival tonight in Memphis. There are dates in Albany NY, Oakland, CA, Portland OR, and both a screening and a discussion “#CATVIDFEST: Is it the end of Art?” at South By Southwest in Austin TX.
Stulen credits many things for the festival’s success. First of all, cat people simply like cat videos. They like to share about their pets. And Stulen says while dog people have dog parks, feline owners have had to find other options.
“In some ways the Internet has become the cat park and I think there’s part that a lot of people wanting to share their cat videos and their cats with one another,” he said.
Stulen readily admits there is something faintly ridiculous about holding a cat video festival, and having thousands of people attend. However he said he and the other folks involved in organizing it take it seriously.
“We are doing this very sincerely,” he said. “And I think there’s a way that as we are doing this we are not doing it in a mocking way, we are not doing it ironically. We are doing it, we really sincerely enjoy these videos. We are putting them out there and kind of reflecting something that is happening in pop culture right now.”
Which he says makes it interesting from a museum perspective.
“Anybody can take their phone, shoot a high definition video of something, put it out in the world and get millions of people to see it, and you don’t need another institution to help with that.”
Stulen said the Internet Cat Video Festival is a way of commentating on that. He also thinks the communal aspect of the Festival adds something to the viewing experience.
“There’s something very different about watching at cat video on your phone or on your laptop or at work, and there’s something very different about coming out and seeing it with 10,000 other people watching it,” he said.
As with last year members of the public are invited to nominate their favorite cat videos through the Walker website. Stulen combed through 10,000 submissions to choose the 75 which he edited into the hour long presentation. He doesn’t know how many he’s likely to get this time round.
He did learn that people like to see new videos – but they love to see the oldies-but-goodies.
“And I think it’s almost something like a classic rock concert, people want to hear the hits, like see the videos that they really knew. Sort of like hearing the stuff on the new album but they wanted the hits to be played. So the video that they may have seen hundreds of times, it’s a very different experience seeing that with 10,000 people around you.”
And this August it could be 13,000 people, the capacity of the State Fair Grandstand. Stulen says there will be a few other changes this year.
“We added a few more categories including a Minnesota Kitty category. So we are actually going to have a category just for Minnesota created videos,” he said.
The nomination process begins today, so cat videographers, grab your phones and your pets. Tickets for the big event go on sale at 10 am on Saturday March 9th.