On Saturday October 11, the Brattle Theater in Cambridge held The First (And Probably Last) Annual Feline Film & Video Festival for Humans. The festival was founded and hosted by Jay Wertzler and Mike Keegan, the latter of whom happens to be VERY allergic to cats. Keegan said, “I can only love cats through the magic of cinema.”
The festival consisted of everything from vintage black and whites to episodes of an animated series called “Cat Agent.” The highlight of the two-hour event, however, was the public submission section, in which people from around the country submitted handcrafted videos featuring their own cats. Despite the mass of audience members meowing in excitement (no, I’m not kidding), Keegan and Wertzler picked four purr-fect volunteers to judge these submissions.
When asked how many cats she owns personally, Holly took a moment to gather her thoughts. She appeared to be doing some calculating in her head before finally answering, “Technically I have two cats.” Holly went on to explain that she considers herself a cat step-mom to cats owned by her friends and family. Hopefully Holly will get the opportunity to cat sit soon, as Halloween approaches, so she can engage in one of her favorite activities: dressing up cats and taking them for a walk in her special stroller.
Michael, one of the events youngest audience members, reminded me of Charlie Bucket right after he wins the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Holding up his hands, each covered in a plush black and pink paw, Michael explained why he was so proud to be a part of the judges panel. He said, “I can judge these cat videos because I actually own the cutest cat in the world! And I really believe it!”
Michael went on to explain how much time he spends taking care of his cat, monitoring his weight and making sure his kitty is healthy. As it turned out, the cat video submission that won the top award did not have a representative at the event, thus they could not collect their prize: the coveted Pooper Scooper D’or. To some, it is just a pooper scooper spray painted with gold glitter, but Michael was delighted with his prize. Still humble, Michael’s closing remarks were about the winning video, not his personal triumph of winning the pooper scooper, “We all just found the kitty in that video so charming!”
Heather proudly admitted that she “watches cat videos all day, every day.” Thus she was the perfect addition to the judges panel. Given the size of the event, about 100 people in attendance, it was comforting to know that at least one of the judges has been in a sort of cat video watching boot camp for a long time. Other audience members I spoke with seemed to have found their way to the Feline Film Festival at the last minute; friends invited as “something to do on a rainy day.” But Heather, on the other hand, smiling as she spoke, told the audience, “I am more concerned with all of the cat pages I follow than with my friends on Facebook.” The festival finally gave Heather an outlet to put all that cat post knowledge to good use!
Suzanna, though volunteered by a friend to join the judges panel, was another non-stranger to the world of cat videos. In fact, Suzanna admits that sometimes, on a bad day, she needs access to cat videos. Suzanna told the audience that she has an especially uplifting cat video montage from the 80s bookmarked on her computer so she can watch it when she’s in a bad mood. As a vet technician, and an avid cat lover, Suzanna hates coming across mean animals at the office. When giving mean animals “the evil eye” doesn’t improve her mood, she turns to cat videos. Having viewed hundreds of cat videos in her day at this point, Suzanna felt confident that she was qualified to be a judge at this event.