San Jose really comes alive in the weeks joining February and March. That’s when the Cinequest film festival brings hundreds of filmmakers and thousands of movie fans to the valley to take in new works and celebrate the art form they love. The 25th annual Cinequest, which is set to run from Feb. 24 to March 8, will feature big-name actors and directors, local filmmakers and the latest in film-oriented technology.
Maverick Spirit awards go to actress and social activist Rosario Dawson, as well as the renowned director John Boorman (Zardoz, Deliverance) who is hosting a screening of Queen and Country, his sequel to the 1987 Hope and Glory. Film journalist Anne Thompson will receive a Media Legacy Award as she discusses the Spanish mindbender Wild Things.
The festival’s opener is Batkid Begins, Dana Nachman’s documentary about how the city of San Francisco pitched in to help out a child in the Make A Wish program. The closer is 5-7, a romance in which Anton Yelchin meets Berenice Marlohe, the Eurasian femme fatale from Skyfall.
One of the many functions of Cinequest is to unveil new technology—this year, the fest will be demonstrating the new “Escape” system. Created by visual media technology company Barco, films shown in the Escape format will be projected on to three screens: one front and center, the other two fanning out from the center screen toward the audience. The idea is to put the viewer inside the action. Cinequest has commissioned filmmakers to test the format with everything from Lady Gaga concert footage to scenes from Burning Man.
The “Picture the Possibilities” segment of the festival is a global roundtable of scientists, educators and youth filmmakers. This year the session will be augmented by Stage One, a competition among high school and college filmmakers.
Among the 91 premieres: Slow West, a modern day western with Michael Fassbender; The Center, produced by Jonathan Demme, is a speculative fiction drama about an eager employee who discovers the cutting-edge company he’s working for is, in fact, a cult; the documentary Champs unites Mike Tyson with Evander Holyfield; Zhang Wei’s Factory Boss charts the torments of a mid-level exec working at a Chinese toy factory; and Kristen Stewart stars in Clouds of Sils Maria by Olivier Assayas.
There will also be several films focused on India and Indian culture: Traces of Sandalwood, Miss India America and the locally-shot For Here or To Go? According to Cinequest CEO and co-founder, Halfdan Hussey, the festival’s schedule is composed of 75 percent submissions and 25 percent solicited work. “I love the fact that we’re able to do that and maintain standards,” Hussey says.
Feb 24-Mar 8
Downtown San Jose