The 25th Cinequest Film Festival kicks off on Tuesday, February 24, and runs through Sunday, March 8. That’s 13 solid days of movies, parties, forums, and events that will turn downtown San Jose into a hub of activity. So, how do you know what to focus on during the festival? Don’t worry: follow our handy guide and you can’t go wrong.
Yes, it’s a Tuesday, but the film and party on opening night are worth staying up past your usual bedtime for. Expect some inspirational opening comments followed by the documentary Batkid Begins, taking place at the gorgeous California Theatre. Afterwards, head to the kickoff party for food and libations.
Hundreds of excellent films are released around the world each year, but only a few trickle into American theaters or find their way onto Netflix. Cinequest shines when it comes to international cinema, showcasing unique films that bring new viewpoints to stories that have often been turned into cliches in Hollywood.
SHORT FILM PROGRAMS
Film festivals are one of the only chances you’ll have to see great curated short film programs, so take advantage! Often overlooked by the mainstream, short films contain storytelling that is powerful, insightful, and cleverly imagined. Recommended: Animated Worlds (Program 4-includes the Oscar-nominated The Dam Keeper), DocuNation (Program 6), and Student Shorts (Program 8).
After a day of films, what’s better than grabbing a drink with fellow movie lovers and chatting about what you’ve seen? Each night, the designated Maverick Meet-Up location is the place to go to socialize and maybe even meet the stars and directors of the films you’ve just watched. Join us, Content Magazine, at The Farmers Union, 151 W. Santa Clara St, Wednesday 2/25 from 9:30p to Midnight.
MAVERICK SPIRIT AWARD WINNERS
These are often announced closer to the festival date, so keep an eye out to see which film luminaries will receive the Maverick Spirit Award this year. More are often announced closer to the festival date, but this year’s Maverick Spirit Award recipients include Rosario Dawson and writer/director/producer John Boorman. Recent past honorees have included Harrison Ford, Salman Rushdie, and Chuck Palahniuk.
DOWNTOWN SAN JOSE
While you’re downtown for the festival, explore beyond the Cinequest bubble: visit a local bar or club for a show or try out one of the many excellent restaurants in the area. March 6 is the South First Friday Art Walk, so galleries will be open late and there will be a festive atmosphere on the streets. Take a break from the big screen!
When the festival wraps up, don’t miss the closing film (5 to 7) and the blowout after-party. The dance floor will be lively, the sponsored booze will be flowing, and you can say a teary goodbye to all of the actors, directors, and new best friends you met during the previous two weeks.
Written by Nathan Zanon
Movie stills provided by Cinequest