Sept. 30, 2013 -- Following its debut in Minneapolis last year, The Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Festival has grown into an international sensation, with fans all across the world purring with delight.
"One of the biggest surprises is how much interest there has been internationally, " said festival producer Scott Stulen. "The Internet doesn't have a lot of borders, but this type of material truly transcends languages."
The 2013 call for submissions attracted pieces from the West Coast to Wales.
"Japan, Russia and Australia all produce a lot of cat videos and we tend to get a lot of interest in the videos [at the festival]," he said. "After touring in Dublin, increasingly now there's been more interest from the UK and also from France and northern Europe."
A team of programmers review the submissions, sending their favorites up the chain to Stulen, who picks and produces the final 75-minute compilation, featuring 65 different clips.
"One of the biggest misconceptions is that the festival is just a YouTube playlist," he said. "But in fact the reel has been edited and is a produced film. I'm a curator, programmer and artist, myself. And I look for what's compelling, what's engaging. In some cases a shaky cell phone video is perfect for what's being captured, and in other cases a short film is."
In addition to the film, other attractions at the Internet Cat Video Festival can be the attendees themselves, some of whom dress up or bring their cats with them, said Stulen.
"Most cats don't really want to be in that environment, so it's usually a low number," he said. "We do it in the venues that allow it, but we don't necessarily encourage it. What's much more prevalent is people dressing up as cats, or favorite cat characters, wearing cat apparel, furry costumes and face paint. It's this whole element of cat culture that comes to life at the event."
When the 2013 series touches down in New York on Oct. 25, cat lovers can also rock out to local band Supercute!, an indie-pop band comprised of three teenage girls.
"We try to make each festival unique to the city it's in," said Stulen, who tries to attend as many as he can in person. But how many lives does an internet cat festival have before getting stale?
"I've got 10 more shows booked after Brooklyn and 15 to 20 in various stages of inquiry, including a potential SXSW date and Vienna, Greece and Jerusalem film festivals," said Stulen, who is already looking toward 2014.
"We're planning on next year being even more of a spectacle. We're also coordinating a test event for a show that applies the same Internet Cat Video Festival format to films about bikes or cycling. So we'll see where that goes."