The Cinequest Film Festival opens next week and I’ve got the catalog all marked up and cross referenced with friend’s picks, submitted my day of PTO in order to catch films I can’t fit in any other time than the work day, and used the kick ass iPhone app to schedule everything in on my calendar (until I add in more films of course based on the buzz that is sure to be zooming about the city once those first screenings conclude.) I’m ready for the Q & A’s, the conversations with filmmakers and passionate filmies, ready for all the new BFF’s (Best Festival Friends – this really is a friendly group of people) and I’ve prepared my liver for the beers that accompany all the meet-ups and soirees over the next 2 weeks. I’m ready for the city to come alive in the unique way that it does during this festival. San Jose shows itself off so well at this event and it’s exhilarating, smart and a feast for the casual and the fanatic cinema-goer!
Here are 10 films or experiences that I think will not only be GREAT, but also really represent some of the diversity of offerings that Cinequest excels at. I’ll be reviewing (and mini-reviewing) as many of the 32 films/screenings that I hope to see in the next 2 weeks as I go and posting them as often as I can. ENJOY and see you at Cinequest!
Meet the Hitlers. – What’s in a NAME!? Thought it sounds like the title for a twisted, slapstick comedy, this documentary examines identity through a question that has actually come up in real conversations (usually over beer) in my life… ” What if your name was Hitler”… I’m fascinated to see this film (which looks to be both humorous and poignant) and to “meet” these people and how they have chosen to rebel, be victimized or embrace this surname than many I’m sure feel is ruined for everyone for all eternity.
Sweden’s Coolest National Team – This film out of Sweden (duh) is a perfect fit conceptually for the geekcentric and nerd proud Silicon Valley. A documentary on the Grand Masters of Memory. Yes. The WORLD MEMORY CHAMPIONSHIP is actually a real thing. And, there appears to be training, and drama, and national support, and sore losers and who knows, maybe even sabotage. THE PRESSURE! This is one I knew I HAD to see. If I can just remember to put it in my calendar!
The House on Pine Street – I LOVE horror flicks. Like a lot. Like, I’m kind of a whore for scary movies. I also love seeing them in dark movie theaters where there is high potential to laugh at others (and myself) when they scream or jump or get all squishy low in their seats (like that helps any?). I’m glad I do no live on Pine Street, it will make watching this movie a bit easier. This one, which hints at some genre and psychological twists go me super excited and I made sure I slotted in the FIRST screening so there were no spoilers overheard before I got to view it!
Bad Exorcists – If I’m a fan of the horror genre I’m a super fan of the horror comedy. This movie looks to have mass potential. It could also suck. That being said, even if it did suck, it would probably still be awesome. I’m hopeful for a fun, fresh take on the genre and the awkward teenage boy theme that admittedly I find endearing even if its most ridiculous manifestations.
Healing a Soldier’s Heart – While I do not seek out films that crack my tough, sardonic exterior normally, I make the exception at Cinequest. It’s hard for me to even look at the image and read the first sentence of the description of this film without tearing up. I think, this is going to be one of the most important and moving films I will see this year. There is so much we don’t understand and maybe can’t understand about the Vietnam War and PTSD, and while horrific and frustrating and tragic, I love that this film seems to provide a message that it is NOT too late to HEAL those that are still hurting greatly from what they experiences 40 years ago. We owe it to them to try and learn from that effort. To forgive and move forward and break free from the pasts that haunt us so deeply.
Miss India America – This I’m predicting to be an Encore Day film right now. I also thing it’s likely to have a lot of substance layered between lots of light comedy. I think it will offer up an interesting and important perspective in a humorous but sincere vehicle. With themes on beauty, love, societal and cultural expectations there’s more I bet than meets the eye to this comedy.
Crescendo! the Power of Music – Music as a force for social change. I have a feeling this will be a roller coaster of a ride, but I’m hoping for more hope than heartbreak. Films at Cinequest have a tendency to inspire outside the theater, and I feel like this might be one of the films that has people searching for a way to positively impact their communities through the arts in new ways!
Children Of the Arctic – This film didn’t jump out upon my first scan, but upon taking another look I think this one (which “follows five Iñupiat teens on the brink of adulthood as they grapple with the obligation to preserve their vanishing heritage and the tempting prospect of greater opportunity elsewhere”) could create a huge conversation after exposing the audience to a questions that (as a very diverse population) is more pertinent to this region than we might think at first glance. This is a Swiss film in Inupiaq with English subtitles, which is another reason (hearing a language not heard often) to see this film.
I’m a big fan of condensed storytelling and I’ve often walked away from the festival each year with at least a couple shorts ending up in my top 5 favorites of the whole Festival. If you can’t see them all, I suggest the Documentaries, Animated and Comedies.They are always well curated with a very wide mix of content and styles and many of them you will not see ANYWHERE else, which is always a shame.
One of the most AWESOME things that happens at Cinequest is the introduction of new technologies, from films made entirely on iPhones to the first films to use Sony 4K technology, it’s Silicon Valley roots shine through with unique technology offerings. This year is the BARCO Escape series which shows a couple of different options of films shot and shown using Escape format; a wrap around (3 separate screens, left, front and right) . It could be vomit inducing motion sickness and it could be freaking brilliant. I’m intrigued and this one is high on the list! Shorts (including scenes from Burning Man, a Lady Gaga/Tony Bennet excerpt and more) and a look at the Maze Runner film.