.Review: ‘Cinequest 2016’

James Franco has been named one of the recepients of the Maverick Spirit Award at this year's film fest.

OLD ENOUGH TO REPAINT: In ‘The Lady in the Van,’ Dame Maggie Smith plays an eccentric transient woman living in a gentrifying London neighborhood.

Palo Alto-bred auteur James Franco, incandescent performer Rita Moreno, and indie film guiding light Robert Hawk are this year’s Maverick Spirit Award winners at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, March 1-13. Opening night’s film has one of the last appearances of the late Alan Rickman in director Gavin Hood’s critique of the drone program, Eye in the Sky. And closing night features The Daughter, an Australian film starring Geoffrey Rush and Miranda Otto.

Cinequest 2016 offers 26 Bay Area made films, including a work in progress by SJSU’s Spartan Studios—a modern-day adaptation of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 work, The Yellow Wallpaper. Harold Lloyd’s 1924 Girl Shy will also be shown, with Dennis James playing the California Theater’s Wurlitzer.

The historic will be complemented by the modern. Halfdan Hussey, the festival’s executive director and co-founder (with the Cinequest president Kathleen Powell), has his eye on the future of moving image technology. Mister Invincible, for example, is a work in progress that aims to be the first feature-length, three-screen film on the Barco Escape format, which was promoted last year with excerpts of The Maze Runner.

Cinequest’s programmer Michael Rabehl points to a number of film premieres: “Embers tells of a future in which no one remembers anything. It’s a really unique sci-fi film. Rita Moreno is here with the world premiere of Remember Me, which is hilarious. We have a new version of The Little Prince, an expansion of the original short tale, starring Jeff Bridges; there’s a very French feel to this movie. Love is All You Need is an expansion of a short film that went viral on YouTube with 50 million hits or so. It’s about a parallel world where homosexuality is normal and heterosexuality is considered disgraceful.”

Guest programmer Charlie Cockey describes one of his favorites, the Argentinian film Parabellum, as “a journey into a most modern heart of darkness.” Chile’s Memory of Water and Peru’s Magallanes also represent the new South American cinema. The Ukrainian Song of Songs is based on the work of Sholem Aleichem, the Yiddish writer whose stories sourced Fiddler on the Roof.

More details on this festival—arguably the two most exciting weeks in Silicon Valley’s calendar (at least in the mind of this film fan)—in upcoming issues of Metro.

Mar 1-13
Downtown San Jose


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