The moody reflections of an existentialist French-speaking feline has taken top honors at an al fresco festival in Minnesota dedicated to cat videos from around the world.
More than 10,000 people filled a field outside the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis after sunset Thursday for its inaugural Cat Video Festival, thought to be the only one of its kind in the world.
Winning the Golden Kitty, chosen by online voting, was “Henri 2, Paw de Deux” by Seattle filmmaker Will Braden, shot in black and white with a solo piano soundtrack, in which the eponymous star broods about his housebound existence.
“I am free to go, yet I remain,” says Henri via a French voice-over, peering out the window. “The 15 hours a day I sleep have no effect. I wake to the same tedium… I’m surrounded by morons.”
Henri was unavailable for comment, but in a statement from the museum, Braden said: “This is a great honor. I don’t think I’ve ever purred this loudly!”
Cat videos have been an online cult phenomenon for years but the festival marked a rare opportunity for enthusiasts to view them as a group, rather than on a computer alone at home.
“We received a little over 10,000 cat video nominations,” including a remarkable number fromJapan and Russia, from which 70 were selected for screening, festival curator Katie Hill said.
“I knew cats were big in Japan, but I was less aware of the Russian influence on these trends,” she told AFP in an email exchange.
“From the French side of things, there were a lot of cat videos with French voice-overs narrating cat thoughts or words — thought I’m not sure if they were all actually coming from French video-makers.”
“Henri 2, Paw de Deux” was a crowd-pleaser, Hill said, because it had all the elements of a winning cat video: “The importance of form and content working together within the video, an adorable cat star and the element of surprise.”
Hill would like to see the festival go on the road, with screenings in other cities and countries, but in the meantime all the selected videos are on Walker’s YouTube channel: //bit.ly/PABVNx
Established in 1927, the Walker Art Center is seen as one of the most prestigious modern art museums in the United States, ranked alongside the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim in New York.
Watch the video below.