‘CatVideoFest’ brings cat lovers together for a good cause

Elena Waldman

The Lyric cinema is upholding its reputation as a haven for alternative movie watchers with this purr-ific showing of “CatVideoFest.” However, this showing serves a greater cause than

Poster of a cat on the wall
A cat Video Fest poster decorates the wall of the Lyric theater on March 10, 2019. (Alyse Oxenford | Collegian)

just fur-filled entertainment.

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“CatVideoFest” creates film-length cat video compilations to help fundraise for cat shelters across the country. The shows, which consist of everything from current viral videos to personal submissions, work with local theaters to give both attention and ticket proceeds to surrounding cat shelters and organizations.

Through the screening of “CatVideoFest” March 10, The Lyric gave a percentage of ticket proceeds to the Larimer Humane Society. Ticket sales did so well, The Lyric is adding another screening of “CatVideoFest” March 17.

“We’ve worked with the Larimer Humane Society before in the past with other fundraiser screenings,” said Kait Edwards, the assistant manager at The Lyric. “Four dollars of every ticket purchased will be donated to Larimer Humane Society to help them and cats out.”

“CatVideoFest” isn’t just funny memes and gifs of our fellow feline friends, but it does contain a fair share of them. The compilation is broken up into several categories, some of which are comedy, animated videos, news packages, music videos and short films. Lisa Gwin, an audience member at the show, said she saw a couple of familiar videos, but was pleasantly surprised by the variety of clips.

“They broke it up into categories. There was comedy, action … so it was cool that it wasn’t just one cat video after another,” Gwin said.

The theater was packed with people of all ages, from students to children in cat ears and their parents. Audible reactions were consistent from the audience throughout the show. Clumsy cat moments were followed by laughter while cuddly kittens evoked “awws” from everyone. Some of the most hilarious clips of the sequence were a video of a cat chasing a bear cub up a tree, a cat grooming video set to dubstep music and a video of a kitten crawling all over its owner in the middle of an extremely focused yoga session.

There were many moments in “CatVideoFest” that were more heartfelt, including a tribute to the recently passed YouTube sensation, Oskar the Blind Cat. Other famous cats were recognized as well, such as Instagram famous LilBub, who gained attention for her odd appearance and inability to fit her tongue in her mouth.

Will Braden, the director of “CatVideoFest,” started the project in 2016 after finding artistry in making cat-inspired films and curated videos. Based in Washington, the fest gained widespread attraction from cat lovers and is now playing in about 150 different cities across the country. Braden said part of the inspiration for “CatVideoFest” was to turn entertainment into community engagement and make a positive impact.

“CatVideoFest” is playing again at The Lyric March 17 at 7 p.m. 

“The idea was everybody watches cat videos, and that’s okay,” Braden said. “But, (we wanted to) take that experience and turn it into a real social community experience and raise some money for local cat charities, or local shelters, and get everybody together to experience this in a theater rather than just experiencing it at home on their laptops.”

Part of “CatVideoFest’s” core value is to raise money locally, rather than donate to larger corporations. This goal allows shelters to receive aid tailored for their specific needs, and the ability to reach out and connect with the community. At showings, shelters are able to do all sorts of outreach, such as recruiting volunteers, selling merchandise, advocating for adoption and educating people about their programs.

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“The idea that each show benefits a local shelter is really part of the DNA of ‘CatVideoFest,’” Braden said. “Those kind of impacts, in a local sense, are much more measurable for us. To be able to see, rather than just being a drop in the bucket, or signing a check over to a big organization. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the idea of local partners is really just a huge part of ‘CatVideoFest.’”

The “CatVideoFest” website offers a submission page for anyone to enter any funny and cute videos they’ve either made or found, which gives it more of a community-oriented aspect. Braden said he does extensive research for the compilations as well, wanting the viewing experience to be unique.

“I also scour the internet for videos, not just most recent viral videos, but also just things that might have gone viral but didn’t,” Braden said. “I’ve learned how to say ‘funny cats’ in like 28 different languages, just to find videos that people wouldn’t see otherwise.  I want people to feel like this is a worthwhile experience for them to come see.”

Elena Waldman can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @WaldmanElena.