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No need to press paws

Internet Cat Video Festival visits Tulsa for the first time



“Be there, or else.” —Grumpy Cat

On September 29, people will gather on a lawn to watch cat videos.

It won’t be some circle of stoners searching for epic cat fails on YouTube. It will be the Internet Cat Video Festival, a national competition and feline film festival celebrating the felis catus of the World Wide Web, held this time on the Philbrook grounds.

“If you hate cats, it’s probably not your thing,” said Scott Stulen, president and director of the Philbrook Museum of Art and founder of the festival. “Then again, even the people who are cynical about it, it’s amazing how quickly they’re turned. It’s hard to be, well, grumpy about it.”

In 2012, he began the festival at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. From an expected turnout of 50 people to an actual turnout of more than 10,000, the festival has taken on a life of its own.

Since its debut, it’s traveled to over 250 cities and 12 different countries.

Will Braden, winner of the 2012 People’s Choice Award, will co-host the event with Stulen. Braden’s 2012 entry, “Henri, le Chat Noir,” features a black-and-white domestic cat who broods about the torture of his life over a bitter piano line.

“I have no opposable thumbs,” Henri laments. “And yet I oppose everything.”

While the festival will contain hundreds of videos taken by cell phones, Stulen said one of his favorite things about the festival is the lack of people recording it.

“When you go to any concert, most of the crowd has their phone up, recording the thing, so they can post it on social media.”

The beauty of the Internet Cat Video Festival? All the cats are already on the internet.

“No one has their phone out. It’s a lot of people being in the moment. It brings people together.”

For Stulen, who took over leadership of the Philbrook last August, it represents what he thinks the museum should be: “more like a town square than an archive of art.”

Eight dollars will get you a ticket to the show, which will run just over an hour long. Beer, wine, and food will be available for purchase.

“We’re expecting to sell out of tickets,” Stulen said, “so get yours early.”

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