The internet is overflowing with adorable cat videos. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to watch, say, a 70-minute compilation of the web’s most fetching felines, carefully curated for maximum cuteness?
The “CatVideoFest” films are a welcome solution to the pressing problem of not having enough time to lay your eager eyeballs on all the internet’s cat-driven content. “CatVideoFest 2020” has just been released, and it’s coming to the Liberty Theatre in downtown Camas for an 11:30 a.m. showing March 7.
“We’re going to get a pretty good crowd,” Liberty Theatre owner Rand Thornsley said. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for children 12 and younger, with 10 percent of ticket sales going to support the cats of the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society.
Why are there so many cat videos? Will Braden, creator of “CatVideoFest” and the popular “Henri, le Chat Noir” videos, said there are so many cat videos because there are so many cats, each one unique and lovable in its own way.
Another possible reason is that “we love cats but also want to see them taken down a peg or two,” Braden said. “If you have the same scenario and replace the cat with a dog, people go, ‘Oh my God, is the dog OK?’ We know the cats are going to be OK, so we can laugh at them.”
Another factor, Braden suggested, is that cats tend to stay at home, while dogs go out with their owners.
“The internet became a place where cat owners could share funny stories and advice, what dog owners get to do just walking around the neighborhood,” he said.
Braden, who works out of his home in Seattle with his Bengal-mix cat, Nin, has been producing these cat video compilations since 2016. That’s when he took over the project — originally called the Internet Cat Video Festival — from The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., after winning a Golden Kitty award for “Henri.”
“It’s 100 percent my full-time job,” Braden said. “I watch 30 to 40 videos every day.”
That works out to about 10,000 cat videos per year, he said, in addition to corresponding with content providers, editing everything together, dealing with licensing, and working with a distribution company to get “CatVideoFest” in theaters around the globe.
“It plays well in places where most people speak English,” he said. Some video clips feature people talking to cats — although the desire to watch cats do, well, just about anything cuts across all cultural barriers.
“Cats are the universal language,” Braden said.
This is part of the reason a communal cat-video-viewing experience can be so meaningful.
“The whole idea is that we are taking an online experience offline,” Braden said. “Anyone can sit at home and watch cat videos. This is a different kind of experience, sitting with other people, having this shared social experience.”
How many cat videos can audiences expect to see? There’s so much cat content out there, audiences could easily end up watching “the Martin Scorsese cut, three hours long,” quipped Braden. This year, Braden has painstakingly whittled the selections down to about 125, with the average clip running about 30 seconds.
“There’s montages, quick snippets, a few that are three to four minutes long,” he said. “The pacing is part of the challenge of editing. I want it to be fun, but I don’t want it to feel like just a guy on his laptop.”
Braden likens it to the playlist at a concert, an artful mix of the “greatest hits” of cat videos featuring some famous cats alongside lesser-known felines, interspersing funny bits with poignant scenes for satisfying emotional impact.
Adorableness, however, is never out of play.
“The majority is undeniably cute kitten stuff with no punchline,” he said. “Just, ‘Look at how cute this kitten is.’ ”
Braden is already working on “CatVideoFest 2021,” and welcomes new submissions. Hopeful contributors can go to catvideofest.com and click on “Submit a Video” — and submitters don’t have to be the creators of content; just let Braden know where it can be found.
“If it is online anywhere,” notes Braden gamely, “I will watch it.”