Cat Film Festival Organizer Combs Through Nearly 20,000 Videos to Find the Purr-fect Picks

Cat Film Festival Organizer Combs Through Nearly 20,000 Videos to Find the Purr-fect Selections
Ludemeula Fernandes on Unsplash

The Internet is brimming with cat videos, but only the best will make the cut at CatVideoFest.

Will Braden is the organizer of the event, and he watches nearly 20,000 cat videos for each year’s installment of the annual kitty-themed film festival.

“We have a submission form on our website, so we get thousands and thousands that way. But as you can imagine, not all of them are solid gold,” he tells the Chicago Tribune. “Reddit is another good resource, there are so many subreddits about cats. And beyond that, learning how to type ‘funny cat’ and other search terms in other languages is another good way to find videos.”

Braden says videos of cats in undignified positions tend to be winners. “The most successful [videos] are where we see the cat getting some kind of comeuppance,” he observes. “I think that’s because — and partly this is our anthropomorphizing them — but we think of them of being kind of aloof or thinking they’re above it all. There’s a reason some of the most popular cat videos are of them trying to jump on something and missing, or sort of slipping and falling and then pretending they’re cleaning themselves. We like to see them taken down a bit. And I think that just comes from how we’ve defined cats as being sort of regal and in charge of everything.”

Braden took over organizing duties after winning the Golden Kitty award at the inaugural CatVideoFest in 2012 as the creative force behind “Henri, le Chat Noir,” the viral web series featuring a tuxedo cat contemplating existential questions.

He says it’s the broad, diverse appeal of cat videos that has kept the festival going year after year, with ticket sales benefiting animal-focused nonprofits. “I’ll be in Boise, Idaho, with the fest, and it’s all families,” Braden explains. “And then I’ll be in a repurposed punk club in Brooklyn, and it’s all drunk 25-year-olds. So I have to make a reel that works for everyone.”

“There’s something to be said for just the physiological gratification of spending 70 minutes laughing in a non-ironic, non-cynical way,” he adds. “Especially with an audience of people enjoying this with you.”

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