Try to stay calm when we inform you of the upcoming touring edition of the New York Cat Film Festival. Slated to show at the Jean Cocteau Cinema on Sunday July 29 (3 pm and 4:30 pm. $5. 418 Montezuma Ave., 466-5528), the life's work of founder Tracie Hotchner, author of both The Cat Bible and The Dog Bible and former Sirius XM host of Cat Chat on the Martha Stewart Channel, aims to educate and inspire through the power of artistically made short films about cats. Sold! We caught up with Hotchner for more info.
What's with you and cats, lady?
Being someone who is not at all a fan of animal videos—I find them shaming of the animals—I thought, what if they could be something made with a purpose and an intention? Something with a heart and soul about it? Turns out there are a lot of those videos out there from people who have a lot to say.
What's the difference between the festival and, say, YouTube?
It's something profound and meaningful and not goofy. It's the opposite of YouTube. … Basically, I think documentarians and filmmakers are like poets. They [made the movies] out of love, and it ain't America's Funniest Cat Videos, I can tell you that. It's a combination of documentaries and fun movies, and I say 'fun' because they can really be quite funny. There's one about a cat groomer in New York City, there's one about the American Museum of the House Cat in North Carolina and the crazy cat man who started it. There's a beautiful movie set in Buenos Aires in a very famous cemetery and the cats that live there—what happened was Americans went in and tried to rescue them, which turned out not to be the best idea. There's a wonderful film about a mostly feral cat that was adopted by a tennis court in California and the few people it gets close to and the people who wanted to be closer to the cat.
And you work with charities as well?
The intent is to give 10 percent of every ticket to a local animal welfare group. Strangely enough, there are people who don't realize there are organizations in their town who do TNR [trap-neuter-release] work and fostering. This is the Santa Fe premier of the festival and we're working with the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society. Unfortunately, they won't be able to be there, but there are the people who care about them and volunteer and adopt. [The festival] is inspiring and philosophical, it's not just some goofy fun—people come away really touched.