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Published: Monday, January 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Catdance elevates the cat video to Sundance level

PARK CITY, Utah -- Everyone's favorite Internet meme -- the cat video -- has hit the big time.
Behold the Catdance Film Festival, a one-night celebration of camera-worthy cats that was held Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival.
The five short films that were featured went beyond the typical surprised-kitty or cat-threatens-dog fare popular on YouTube. The Catdance films, culled from submissions by cat lovers across the country, told creative, feline-focused tales. There was the story of an aging Internet cat who can't cope with the loss of fame and "A Cat's Guide to Caring for a Human."
"Humans are inherently lazy," reported the latter film in a `50s-inspired instructional style. "Left to their own devices, they will sleep well past the break of dawn."
Other films included "Catalogue," where a couple orders a bedspread from a catalog and is surprised to see that the cat shown in the photo was shipped with the comforter. "Rocky" tells a heartfelt story of a man's 17-year relationship with his cat. In "A Change of Heart," a photo of a cat on a cellphone saves a failing relationship.
Each of the five finalists was awarded a golden cat-litter scoop.
Actress AnnaLynne McCord hosted the event, which was sponsored by the Fresh Step litter brand. The 25-year-old "90210" star is a lifelong cat lover who proudly displayed photos and videos of her cat, Christopher Buni, on her own cell Saturday.
"What's not to love about a cat?" she asked. "Cats have so much personality. They're very highly intelligent creatures, and if you're a highly intelligent creature, you respond to that."
McCord is known for taking her cat to work on set, and once dashed out of her house naked to chase away a coyote who was threatening her kitty companion.
The Catdance Film Festival was accompanied by a festive, feline-themed party on Park City's Main Street. Spoofs of famous movie posters dotted the walls, with cats replacing the stars of films such as "Top Gun," "Pulp Fiction," "The Big Lebowski" and "Clueless." Drinks such as the Feline Fresh and Kitten Kaboodle were served, along with tuna appetizers.
Catdance continues online: Fans can watch the feline films beginning Sunday and vote for their favorite until Feb. 28. The winning filmmaker will collect $10,000. Also available are limited-edition knit hats with cat ears, with all proceeds benefiting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Cats have even clawed their way into the actual Sundance festival. They had their own official entry with the short film "Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?", director Jason Willis' spoof of educational movies exploring social ills. The seven-minute film, which ran in Sundance's midnight-movie program, has commentary from the "Catnip Crisis Center" and other supposed scientific groups about the effects and hazards felines face when partaking of catnip.
Willis called it "mostly a home movie about my cats" and said the film's entire budget came to $25 -- to buy catnip.

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