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Home / Articles / Arts / The Short List /  Crowd ...
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Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012

Crowd Control, Arab Film Festival, and Ghost Opera

Our top three picks of San Diego events this week

shortlist Watch this confused kitten in the Internet Cat Video Festival.

1. LOL at that crazy cat!

Chances are good that you've caught Keyboard Cat's act on YouTube, whether it's the original video or the one with K.C. jamming with Hall & Oates on "You Make My Dreams." After all, the original's been viewed more than 27.5 million times. But you ain't even scratched the surface of Internet feline fun.

At its next Pop Thursdays event, starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, Balboa Park's Museum of Photographic Arts will host the West Coast premiere of Walker Art Center's Internet Cat Video Festival. Some 10,000 videos were submitted, and the Walker folks edited the selections down to about 70 minutes of viral-video hilarity. Seattle filmmaker Will Braden, who created the People's Choice winner, "Henri, the Existential Cat," will be on hand.

"It's crazy how viral [these videos] can get and how people just enjoy them—or secretly enjoy them," says MoPA development associate Christina Shih. "You can go to YouTube and watch all the videos, but I can't even imagine what it's going to be like to sit with a couple hundred of your friends, just laughing together."

The video fest is the prime attraction at the event, dubbed Crowd Control because the theme is all about crowd-sourcing. Attendees can also view MoPA's current exhibitions, including Soapbox! The Audience Speaks, which is the result of visitors rating images from the museum's permanent collection and, in effect, assuming the role of curator. 

That's not all. Projected on the wall at the party will be the winners of The App Wars, a competition pitting Instagram and Hipstamatic photographers against one another. You can also blend your own variety of tea at a station sponsored by North Park's Coffee & Tea Collective. 

"We wanted to celebrate this idea and focus this Pop's theme around the idea of audience-generated content, collective collaboration and the idea of crowd-sourcing," Shih says. "Weíre handing the power over to the public that night." 

Rounding out the fun will be craft cocktails by Alchemy, street food by MIHO Gastrotruck spinoff Stand & Deliver and music by Wild Wild Wets, a CityBeat favorite.

2. The Arab perspective

Sure, there are plenty of film festivals in San Diego. There's the Asian fest, the Latino fest, FilmOut and the San Diego Film Festival, just to name a few. But the Arab voice has long been missing from these celebrations of cinema, and considering the global political climate, that's too bad. Film is a terrific medium to gain understanding of culture, which is why news of the first Arab Film Festival in San Diego is so welcome. Local organization Karama has teamed up with a touring fest to present two days of shorts and features, on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 16 and 17, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. A list of films and showtimes can be found at

3. Spirit song

The pipa is an ancient Chinese four-stringed instrument shaped like a bulbous fruit and described as almost like a "rarely seen" endangered animal. Art of …lan, the innovative chamber-music organization, has found a Los Angeles-based musician, Jie Ma, who's been studying the pipa since age 5, to coax haunting melodies from the instrumentís wood in Ghost Opera at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Composed by Tan Dun, who scored Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the piece smashes through space, time and tradition to update the 4,000-year-old shamanistic performance art known as "Guixi." The pipa will be joined by a strings ensemble, a glass bowl of water and breathing. Tickets are $25.

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email our events editor, Alex Zaragoza. You can also bug her on Twitter.