Henri Mug.jpg
If you were wise, there's a good chance you checked out a bit over the long Labor Day weekend - took a brief respite from

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In Case You Missed It: Henri the Existential Cat is Famous

Henri Mug.jpg
If you were wise, there's a good chance you checked out a bit over the long Labor Day weekend - took a brief respite from the status updates and viral memes and spent a little time in the real world, with your real friends and family. If you did take such a break, however, there's a chance you missed the story of Henri the Existential Cat and Seattle filmmaker Will Braden.

Henri, star of Braden's Henri 2: Paw de Deux ruled supreme at last week's first-ever Internet Cat Video Film Festival, which went down Thursday at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis. Created on a whim and reaching a level that far surpassed anything festival organizers ever envisioned, the festival drew over 10,000 people and once again proved just how bizarre the world we live in is.

The festival graced the pages of the New York Times, Slate, Gawker, and here, in Braden's home town, garnered front-page mention in Saturday's Seattle Times.

The New York Times describes the scene:

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."

And the Seattle Times discusses the festival's star (and the Seattle director that helped make him famous):

It was Braden and Henri who won the "People's Choice" Golden Kitty award "by a landslide," says [festival spokeswoman Rachel Joyce]. They even beat the world-famous Japanese cat, Maru, whose videos have been viewed 174 million times.

The award was for the second of the three videos by Braden starring Henri.

But it was his first video, "Henri," that introduced the angst-ridden cat to the world: "I am a black cat ... ," the subtitles began. "I live a life of luxury ... But I feel empty ... ."

And ...

Braden, 32, is a graduate of Garfield High School and Western Washington University who also studied at the Seattle Film Institute.

It was for a project at the film institute that Braden made the first video of Henri.

It was in 2006, and the students had been watching a number of black-and-white French movies from the 1940s and '50s. Braden began thinking about how Americans viewed these films -- "the French films were very pretentious and self-involved."

He decided to do a parody. "And what could be more self-absorbed and pampered than a house cat?" he said.

Self-absorbed, pampered, and now more famous than you or I will ever be. Such is the world we live in.

Congratulations, Will and Henri.

Check out the prize-winning video below:

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