179 films…four theaters…six screens…84 world and North American premieres…more than 35 special events…almost 9,500 minutes of film and more than 700 participants. With all of this crammed into 13 days during this year’s Cinequest Film Festival, attracting 100,000 fellow film lovers, how do we even begin to choose?
Cinequest, San Jose’s 24-year-old film festival, takes place from March 4 through 16. First, grab a printed Cinequest Film Festival Guide (available at Noah’s New York Bagels, Camera 12 Cinemas, and Philz Coffee) or go to cinequest.org to peruse all of the films and events.
“There is great stuff going on every day and cool stuff in the evenings every day,” says Nathan Zanon, Content Magazine contributor and eight-year Cinequest volunteer. Figure out which days you’re free, look at the calendar to see what interests you, then go, he recommends.
How do you pick which ones to go to?
“There are certainly a lot to choose from. It’s really hard,” he says. Read the descriptions but have an open mind. “One of the great things is you don’t know what you’re going to get. You’re most likely going to see something that you won’t see anywhere else. Odds are pretty good you’re going to see something very unique. Be open—you can’t go wrong.”
Cinequest also has a new iPad and Android app and an updated iPhone app. The website and smartphone app offer a calendar scheduler to allow you to create your personal film/event schedule. The best channels to follow are Facebook, Twitter, and Vine with the handles of @Cinequest (don’t forget to label your posts with #Cinequest). Facebook will offer more event/film info, Twitter will be used for conversations, and Vine will be used for Cinequest-made trailers of this year’s films as well as event views.
Or, in another word, party! Cinequest says it is the only major film festival that produces its own parties. There are two kinds held almost every day of the festival: VIP Soirees, from 5 to 7 p.m., and Maverick Meetups, from 9:30 p.m. until whenever the party ends, and locations vary around
town. Both give filmgoers a chance to converse and even connect with some of those who have worked on the films. Soirees are open to VIP All Access pass holders and Meetups are open to everybody. “The experience doesn’t end when the credits roll,” says Kyle Burt,
publicity manager for Cinequest.
These are Zanon’s favorite parts of the film festival. “These are really great at building community around the festival,” he says. “They showcase downtown, they showcase the different spots. You have these great opportunities to meet people and mingle and meet filmmakers and Cinequest staff and volunteers.”
Can’t Miss Event
The Closing Night Party, Zanon says. “It’s always a great event.”
Choose a level of festival pass depending on how much you want to immerse yourself in Cinequest. General admission tickets run $10 each; Film Lover passes are $145 and give you access to regular film screenings and encore day screenings; Maverick passes cost $250 and include the opening and closing night screenings and parties, Maverick Spirit Events, Media Legacy Events, forums and all screenings; and $500 will get you VIP All Access, which also includes VIP Lounge Access, VIP Soirees plus everything else.
Films to Check Out
• First film with gay content produced from Russia in 10 years: Winter Journey
• First movie filmed entirely on an iPhone 5: Uneasy Lies the Mind
• Documentary about Mark Bingham, one of the passengers on United Flight 93 on 9/11 who was from the Bay Area: The Rugby Player
But remember: there are about 175 other films from which to choose.
Picture the Possibilities
If you want to peek inside the minds of today’s teenagers and young adults, seek out the films that they have created with the help of Cinequest and professional filmmakers.
Maverick Spirit Awards
Every year, Cinequest honors someone for this award. This year, Cinequest has chosen Martin Cooper for the Maverick Innovator Award. He created something almost all of us remain attached to throughout the day—the cell phone. Cooper will appear at the opening night event at 7 pm March 4 at the California Theatre.
Matthew Modine will also receive the Maverick Innovator Award and the film festival will present his new “appumentary” about Full Metal Jacket. This chronicles the making of this Vietnam War masterpiece, directed by Stanley Kubrick. The Full Metal Jacket Diary event will be at 3:30 p.m. March 15 at Camera 12.
Chef David Kinch and farmer Cynthia Sandberg will present recipes and hors d’oeuvres at the Cinequest VIP Soiree at the Fairmont from 5 to 7 p.m. on March 9.
Past years’ Maverick Spirit Award honorees have included Harrison Ford, Spike Lee, Sir Ian McKellen, Jennifer Jason Leigh and William H. Macy.
For the first time, film journalists and critics will receive a nod with the Media Legacy Awards. Three film journalists will screen movies they believe deserve a second look and will lead Q&A sessions afterward. Eric Kohn, Indiewire chief film critic and senior editor, will present “The Grand Seduction;” Harry Knowles, creator of the website Ain’t It Cool News, will look at Grand Piano. Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, will view Fruitvale Station.
Images provided by Cinequest
Written by Lynn Peithman Stock