Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cats, Cats, Cats! Just Cats Film Festival. TIFF Fulfills a National Obsession April 17th.

Just for Cats: Internet Cat Video Film Festival @ TIFF Bell Lightbox

In partnership with the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

April 17th   7:30 and 9 p.m.

Tickets on Sale Wednesday March 26 for second showing.

Magali Simard, Film Programmes Manager at TIFF Bell Lightbox will host the event.
Magali, first things first, are you a cat person? 

Oh my God, so much, at heart.   
Just Cats is the first all cat video festival in Toronto featuring a film of favourite YouTube cats.  What’s it all about?

It’s a fundraiser and spirit of awe and you can laugh and clap with 500 people. Normally we watch cat videos at home alone or at the desk for five minutes at lunch, as a solo activity while eating.  But this is sanctioned and it’s in a gorgeous cinema and TIFF shows its humane, fun side and it has a purpose to aid cats.

Prime Minister Harper’s wife Laureen is attending. Does she have a special interest?
Harper is a cat activist and cat foster mom so I reached out off the cuff and put her on our radar.  She has never been officially at TIFF to present, and I knew she’s a cat activist.  When I was living in Gatineau I noticed that there was a cat shelter beside Parliament Hill and when her husband was elected Prime Minster she took over that thing.  I reached out to her and she said she would totally make it work.  She will take an hour out of her day to come to Toronto just to do this.  We are so happy and she really wants to be introduced cat activist.

And you can adopt a cat right at the theatre, too!
In the Lightbox lobby there will be an adopt-a-thon. There is going to be a red carpet and the media will be their taking pictures and the Humane Society will bring in cats for adoption and people can interact with them and get information.  If they are interested in adoption they can sign up.  Having live cats livens up the whole event.  It’s something I never thought I’d be able to due to restrictions but it’s happening.  There will also be live music and photo opps and a cat cut-out.  We have had so much interest we were sold out so we are offering a second screening.
Did you meet any resistance to the idea of a cat festival?  TIFF is usually pretty serious about film art.

I think I had to do a tiny bit of convincing. The core of our staff supports the cats and people have asked me if there will be a Dog Festival.  No! My devotion is pure for the felines. While we’re doing this we’re just closing the Pasolini retrospective and really, that’s something that’s something we strive to do -  goofier and funnier things through the year. We have sig-a-logs for Grease and The Sound of Music.  It will bring a lot of people who aren’t accustomed to seeing Pasolini, and we’re there to celebrate all art onscreen and celebrate it in all its forms.  We thought it would be fun to do it before Easter vacation, the Thursday night before.   

Cats through social media have experienced popularity like we haven’t seen since Egypt. Why is the time right?
I don’t know, it’s certainly due to the clips online, the fact that we can exchange these things in a nano second, 2000 more a year than normally, that’s certainly a part of it and the sense of humour on the internet. Most of what you send your friends is funny or if it’s serious it’s political. Both are excellent subjects.  Cats and sex just add more interest. I can’t pinpoint when it became as intense with cats, maybe three years ago.  Then came the celebrity cats which was bizarre. Celebrity cats have sponsorships with big companies.   Grumpy Cat has a deal with Friskies and Lil Bub and Henri the existential cat have actual sponsorships and owners are banking on this. They raise money for charity and its good business, and business is good. I was hoping we could get celebrity cats but flying them in isn’t good, they should be just enjoying living.
What can we see onscreen?

The reel is 75 minutes long, joy of joys! There are bunch of intros and then we’ll get to the reel. Sex and cats are the internet’s most popular searches but what about dogs?  Dogs are family member and true blue whereas a cat’s appeal is weird, they can be totally vicious and unpredictable and dogs are simple and loving and they won’t turn on you.  But cats are just bizarre and have minds of their own. Dating back to Egyptian days, they have a bizarre aura and always try to dominate something in general and whether they fail or win, they will always be asserting their dominance.
That will be so much fun!
For a full hour we’ll experience humour and heartwarming moments and to watch with 500 people who will never be silent, will be moving and funny.  Cynical and cave people and earnest people are in on this.  It reaches everyone.  One of the staff here at Lightbox has a phobia of cats so I will definitely make sure she goes and lock her in the theatre! 
And best of all the festival will tour Canada!

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies purchased the reel outright for Canada and they are bookings the festival, they already have nine dates and by now they should have more.  It is right to launch here at TIFF, and we had wonderful discussions and we thought we could give them a launch that would pay off.




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