CHATHAM — The Chatham Orpheum Theater is known across the Cape for showing a selection of films focusing on famous artists, and this year the Sustainability Film Series. Now the theater is branching and introducing the New York Dog and Cat Film Festivals to Cape Cod on Sept. 29 and 30.
“Every winter in January, there’s a conference in Utah,” said Kevin McClain, executive director of the Orpheum, “which is a gathering of all independent theaters around the country. They all come together for seminars, classes and presentations, and studios are also there to present their series. This is where I found the Arts Series—the studio was showing clips of the art films and how huge they were in Europe.
“A couple years ago at the conference, I met Tracie Hotchner, who founded the New York Dog and Cat Film Festivals, which she aimed to show all around the country. I was blown away by her enthusiasm and passion for this festivals, and knew that Chatham would be the perfect place to show them. When you look around Chatham, you see the passion and the love that our local community has for cats and dogs,” he said.
“It just seems a natural fit,” said McClain.
The New York Dog Film Festival began in 2015, followed by the Cat Film Festival in 2017. Both were big hits, selling out theaters in New York. Hotchner, a pet wellness advocate and author, took them on the road to raise money for local animal welfare organization and shelters.
McClain reached out to photographer Kim Rodriguez, whom he’s partnered with to create Orpheum fundraisers in the past. She’s also been a featured Artist of the Month at the Theater because of her book, “Dogs on Cape Cod.”
“We thought by showing the films, we could give ‘X’ percentage of the ticket sales to the two shelters on the Cape,” said Rodriguez.
The festivals accept submissions from the public, with only a select number chosen to be included in two feature-length shows. Each festival includes two programs of short films, ranging from one minute to 20 minutes. The Dog Film Festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 29, with the Cat Film Festival the following Sunday, Sept. 30. Doors open at 9 a.m. with the show beginning at 10 on both days; each program is 60 to 80 minutes with a 15 minute intermission between programs. (A complete list of the films being shown is on the Orpheum website.) Tickets, which include both programs, are $20.
Part of the proceeds from the festivals go to local humane rescue organizations. On Cape Cod, a portion of every ticket purchased for the Dog Film Festival will go to the MSPCA, and likewise, the Cat Film Festival will benefit the Animal Rescue League.
"That’s part of their mission,” said McClain, “to celebrate the joy and love people give their pets, and to provide funds for the local animal shelters.”
In addition to showing films, the Orpheum will also be displaying animal-themed art. As Rodriguez explained, “we asked the Creative Arts Center for pieces that they would be willing to donate. I figured it was a great way to get works of art from our local artists donated so that proceeds from any sales would 100 percent go to two Cape animal shelters. They were kind enough to donate eight pieces of art.”
“Which fits in with the mission of our theater,” said McClain. “The local artists of the month are all from the Creative Arts Center. The theater supports local art, sells it off the walls, although the Orpheum does not take a commission. We produce a documentary about the local artist, absolutely free, and that’s why we appreciate when local artists donate their work, because we do understand being supporters of local art.”
In the hallway leading up to the Orpheum’s two theaters, a billboard is posted announcing a photo contest for both dogs and cats.
“We’re judging based on categories such as ‘cutest dog’ and ‘cutest cat’ and all that,” said McClain. “If you have a photo, email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll print them, cut them up and post them.”
Depending on their success this weekend, McClain would “absolutely love to bring the festivals back, if the community supports this and enjoys it. We would love to make this an annual event where we can celebrate our pets and raise some money for the local shelters. Tracie comes out with new films every year, so there’s always plenty of new material. We promise, we’ll be much better organized next year.”
The New York Dog And Cat Film Festivals
Sept. 29 and 30
Chatham Orpheum Theater
Tickets $20, available at box office or on line
See www.chathamorpheum.org for program details and tickets