While most of the videos Braden selected are typical cat pratfalls, he also included works that push the genre’s boundaries, including animations, music videos and commercial parodies.
“The more popular cat videos get, the more people with a lot of talent want to use cats to show off their artistry,” Braden says.
He would know. Before being tapped to curate the festival, Braden created “Henri, Le Chat Noir,” a moody series starring his relative’s French tuxedo cat grappling with existential dread. (The second film in the “Henri” series won the Golden Kitty award at the first Internet Cat Video Festival, in 2012.) As Henri’s fame grew, cat videos (and creating tie-in products such as T-shirts, a calendar and a book) became Braden’s full-time job.
Braden’s favorite feline films are less highbrow than his own work.
“This year, I really loved a video called ‘Gato malo,’ which means ‘Bad cat,’ in Spanish,” he says. “It’s this cat that’s sitting on a woman’s coffee table and knocking stuff off of it just to be a jerk.”
“Gato malo” has garnered more than 9 million views on YouTube, but it did not win this year’s Golden Kitty. That honor (decided by online vote) went, somewhat contentiously, to “Cat Behavior Finally Explained,” a video that does not star a real cat. Instead, it shows a pair of fake paws batting at string, pestering a dog and engaging in other acts of mischief.
“Some people had trouble with that, but it’s also really funny,” Braden says.
Despite the occasional controversy, the Internet Cat Video Festival is all about bringing people together, Braden says.
“Cat videos are one of the rare things that everyone seems to enjoy, whether they admit it or not,” he says.
AFI Silver, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring; Thu., 7 p.m., $7-$12; Sun., 11 a.m., sold out, 1 p.m., $5-$12.
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