The Cinequest Catalog is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I look forward to my international travels from the comforting dark of my local theatres each year. What an honor to have this festival in my backyard. My world gets bigger with every film viewed. It’s like auditing the universe. Cinequest runs Feb 28th-March 11th, 2012 and really is a local gem. The opportunity to see phenomenal films and have amazing discussions will energize this city like few other annual events do. Below are my top ten films I’m looking forward to based only on the catalog descriptions or short trailers I have seen. Picking ten is like choosing your favorite organ, but these caught my interest right out of the gate. In no particular order…
The Lady: Luc Besson has long been one of my favorites. The Big Blue, Taken, Angel-A, of course The Transporter series. He’s a phenomenal story-teller no matter what his role in a film. Producer, writer, director, he just has this voice that intrigues. I’m emotionally, artistically, visually, and philosophically engaged with his work and this opening night film with its amazing cast will set the bar for this year’s festival appropriately high. I’m not familiar and maybe not even interested in the topic (based on real events surrounding Burmese politics) but somehow I know Luc (can I call him that?) will make me care, think and discuss, and isn’t THAT what film is meant to do? I’m on the Luc bus I’m afraid, and will go wherever it takes me.
Mariachi Gringo: To my dad’s great disappointment, not one of this three children who have gotten married thus far had a Mariachi perform at the reception. Two of my siblings married into Mexican families even, and yet we were bereft of that beautiful tradition. I always joked that if my dad wanted to have a Mariachi band play so badly, why didn’t he just sing himself. But, it wouldn’t be the same. The title of this film alone puts a huge smile on my face. The film no doubt will have a lot of heart, humor, and Mariachi. Maybe I’ll take my dad.
The Island President: Maldives. You’ve seen the iconic photos. Everyone has their dream place. Maldives is mine. This is a hugely important film with regard to conservation and extremely educational with regard to how to get the world to listen before an Island Nation disappears. This film I’d be willing to bet will inform and inspire you in unexpected ways.
Portrait of a Zombie: Zombies are more complex than you would think. They eat brains after all so they’d have to be. I’m not a parent, but I believe that the bond a parent has with their child can be one of the most complex and strong bonds that animals can form. A mother and father’s love can lift one up and can make one do horrible things. What if your child was a zombie? Would you stop loving them? How far would you go? These are amazing ideas and I look forward to them being explored in this film. And if there are brains and blood and gore, that will be awesome too.
George the Hedgehog: Two words. Animated. Hedgehog. I don’t think you need any more incentive than that. Next film.
The Ghastly Love of Johnny X: This is no doubt headed toward cult film status. This is your next Rocky Horror. Your next Clockwork Orange. Your next Brazil. Your next Dr. Strangelove. The potential I see in the cinematic style just in a short few clips had me flipping through the catalog to find out more. Can’t wait.
Twittamentary: As a native Palo Altan, I’m fascinated by the power of the internet and social media. Equally impressed am I with the power of film. Combine the two and allow people to interact via twitter while viewing a movie about twitter and it’s like an M.C. Escher painting meets a choose your own adventure book meets string theory meets the Mario Brothers. How many layers to your experience? How fun to have a film be interactive! How exciting to have it be different every time you view it. Move over 3D…the new age of TwitterD is upon us.
Sunflower Hour: Puppets. They are funny. They are bizarre. We love them. Even when they are effed up. Did you ever watch a kids show and think, boy how did that actor get that gig? Or maybe you think, I hope they didn’t have aspirations to do Shakespeare and Luc Besson films and settle for singing jingles about the alphabet opposite a piece of fuzzy felt that makes more than they do. This could be a runaway favorite with what appears to be a dark, comic (puppet heavy) look at the children’s television industry.
Bel Bora is Here: Ah, artists. Ah, Brazilian artists. Ah, Bel Bora. Google him if you don’t know his work. From mosaics to sculpture to his mustache…the world is a better place with him in it and now you can explore his world.
P.O.V. A Cursed Film: The Ring (based on the Japanese film Ringu) to this day is the scariest movie I have ever seen. The only film to make me SCREAM out loud and cover my face IN a movie theatre. This from the girl who at age 12 would show horror films at her birthday parties. The Japanese horror film takes horror to a whole new psychological depth. Chilling. Compelling. I’m going to need me someone to grab onto in this movie I have a feeling. Maybe I can get Luc Besson to give Jason Statham a call and see if he’s available! Late night screening…oh hell yes.
Maverick Spirit Award – Michael Minna: Anyone who knows me, knows I love my food. I take more pictures of my food be it tacos, sushi, or braised lamb shank than I do of my cats, friend, family, myself, vacations, and my surrounding combined. Of all the special events at this year’s festival, this one in my book, held at the Capital Club (my favorite view in San Jose inside and out) and honoring two chefs, is reason alone to purchase your VIP ALL ACCESS PASS. This event is only open to VIP pass holders. Now you might say what does chefing have to do with film? Please. Art. Innovation. Creativity. Science. Method. Presentation. Experiences that change you. Well, get your pass and see for yourself. Get ready for food, wine, views, and a deliciously moderated conversation that will open your eyes, mind and taste buds with both Michael Minna and Michael Miller as the Maverick and Emerging Maverick Award recipients.