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It's raining cats and cats at Zinema's film festival

Lisa Johnson's cat Thomas plays with Jeremiah the chihuahua. A video of Johnson's cat and dog playing will be included in the Internet Cat Video Film Festival at the Zinema 2 on Tuesday, Dec. 10. (Submitted photo)

Cat videos.

Thanks to social media, they're everywhere on the Internet. And now they're moving from your computer screen to the big screen.

The Zinema 2 movie theater and the Duluth Art Institute are hosting the Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Film Festival on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. with the addition of some local feline videos.

The film festival is a travelling show created by the Walker Art Center. The festival was started in 2012 and premiered during the Minnesota State Fair. The response was so positive that the Center created a second compilation of videos and took the show on the road.

"I was at the first cat video festival last year," said Anne Dugan, curator of the Duluth Art Institute. "They had no idea it would be so popular. But I guess it's a pretty universal thing. It's something everyone enjoys."

Dugan partnered with Jonathon Olsen of Zinema 2 to bring the show to Duluth.

"I know they're very popular," said Olsen about cat videos.

"Everyone watches them on their own, so it's quite a fun thing to do in a public space," said Dugan.

Dugan and Olsen also decided to include video submissions from local cat lovers.

Lisa Johnson submitted a video of her Russian Blue cat, Thomas, playing with her chihuahua puppy, Jeremiah.

"I get a kick out of watching my animals. Whenever my animals breathe, I take a picture of them. I often take videos when they're doing something obscenely cute," said Johnson.

Johnson said Thomas decided to treat Jeremiah like his kitten and would often groom him and roughhouse with him. But it was all in good fun.

"I got Thomas from Animal Allies and he's the most extraordinary cat. He likes everyone. He's very gregarious and unflappable," said Johnson.

Animal Allies has also submitted a few feline-focused films to the festival. Its youth ally volunteers have been making videos to promote the adoption of animals for a couple of years now.

One of their videos was made in the style of a campaign ad for Tululee the cat.

"Tululee was what we call a "bench warmer" because she'd been there for about 270 days without being adopted," said John Gustafson of Animal

Allies.

Gustafson said they make videos of animals to get them more visibility. Tululee was adopted very shortly after the video was made, which Gustafson said happens often.

"We always try to make videos that portray the cats in the best light," said ally volunteer Charlie Bray. "We get videos of them playing and being loving."

Bray is one of the ally volunteers who creates the videos. He's been making them since he was a freshman in high school. He's now a senior.

Another video submitted by Animal Allies shows a sketch created by children who attended its Purrfectly Meowvelous Camp this past summer. "Taco Stand" shows the variety of cats available at the shelter, from the larger, older cats in the "Kitty Baskets" to the smaller cats wrapped

up in blankets like kitty burritos.

Pat Castellano, the humane education director, says that this is an important lesson for the kids: "It's not all about the kittens and the puppies. Older cats tend to be overlooked."

The sentiment can be applied to viewers and cat video creators themselves: "It's a life lesson as well: Don't overlook someone just because they're different," said Castellano.

Olsen said that although cat videos are very popular, they often "can be easily dismissed."

"I think showing them in a theater gives it some legitimacy. People tend to think of art as being this highbrow thing, so this shows that it can be something more fun and still be art," said Olsen.

Who: The Zinema 2 and Duluth Art Institute

What: Internet Cat Video Film Festival

Where: The Zinema 2, Zeitgeist Arts, 222 E.

Superior St., Duluth

When: Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.

Cost: regular Zinema 2 admission

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