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At Cat Video Film Festival, Stars Purr for Close-Ups

By MELENA RYZIKAUG. 31, 2012

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    Supported by Photo The Golden Kitty award, chosen by visitors to the Walker’s Web site, went to Will Braden for his two-minute opus “Henri 2: Paw de Deux,” about the existential angst of a black-and-white French puss. Credit Will Braden

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    MINNEAPOLIS — You could hear the meows nearly a block away, and also the “awwws.” The laughter too.

    On Thursday evening the Walker Art Center, one of the nation’s most prominent institutions of contemporary art, hosted the inaugural Internet Cat Video Film Festival here. An estimated 10,000 people turned out for an event that was, from its inception to its closing credits, an online meme made flesh (and fur).

    The crowd — easily double what organizers expected — packed the lawn outside the museum, spilling onto the sidewalks across the street. There were local cat lovers and out-of-state fans of Fluffy; many wore kitty-theme T-shirts or simply ears and whiskers. Some took real cats on leashes. A few dogs came, for irony.

    They all settled in for a screening of cats behaving badly, or cutely, or mysteriously, sometimes all at once. That much of the audience had already seen the clips on YouTube did not seem to diminish the enthusiasm. Quite the contrary.

    “People watch them, and they watch them over and over and over again,” said Gretchen Sealls, 65, a retired banker who drove five hours from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I think you’re going to see a lot of copycat versions of this,” she added. “No pun intended.”

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