Cinequest 2017 Elevates To Another Level

504 movies and events, 2 cities, 1 great festival

It was an uncharacteristically chilly day for San Jose yesterday, as press and Cinequest supporters gathered on a patio at San Jose State. We chatted and noshed on meatballs, happy to be in one place again — film fans and writers, eager to find out what was coming to Cinequest 2017.

And there were a few surprises — not just new venues since Camera 12 had unfortunately closed, but a whole new city added to the line-up. It’s still a San Jose-based festival, but Cinequest is expanding up the peninsula… and into Virtual Reality…

From Cinequest:

Cinequest Film and VR Festival (Cinequest 2017) will occur February 28th to March 12th in bastion San Jose, while expanding to Redwood City, California. Festival screenings and events have grown from 365 in 2016 to 504 in 2017. Heightening its fusion of technological innovation with empowering creativity, Silicon Valley’s Cinequest will introduce an unparalleled Virtual Reality element to the 2017 festival. Cinequest 2017 highlights include:

Opening Night Screening and Celebration: Feb. 28, 7:15 pm, California Theatre: Mark Pellington (Arlington Road) presents his poignant, fabulous new comedy, The Last Word , starring Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Mrs. Winterbourne, Postcards from the Edge) and Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables, Big Love, Mamma Mia!). Pre-screening includes special presentations and Jerry Nagano filling the lavish California Theatre with glorious music from the mighty Wurlitzer organ. Post-screening festivities and fun will take place at The Farmers Union.

Closing Night Screening and Celebration: March 12, 6:00 pm, California Theatre: Cinequest 2017 culminates with The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country ) and starring two-time Academy Award-nominated Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane, Zero Dark Thirty), Daniel Brühl (The Fifth Estate, Captain America: Civil War), and Johan Heldenbergh (The Broken Circle Breakdown). Adapted from Diane Ackerman’s best-selling book, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the tale of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion. Pre-screening includes presentation of both the Cinequest Film & Cinequest VR Awards. Post-screening festivities and revelry will take place at The Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown.

“It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place.”
Neil Gaiman, Maverick Spirit Award Winner

Maverick Spirit Award Events : Cinequest’s most prestigious accolade, the Maverick Spirit Award recognizes bold, visionary, and creative forces-those most compelling in the worlds of Silicon Valley innovation and the film arts. Previous guest recipients include: James Franco, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Spacey, Rosario Dawson, Harrison Ford, William H. Macy, Gus Van Sant, Spike Lee, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sir Ian McKellen, Neil Gaiman, Alec Baldwin, and Sir Ben Kingsley. Please watch the Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award video to view clips honoring these exceptional individuals.

This year’s two recipients are:

Actor, Jane Lynch (Glee, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, The 40-Year-Old Virgin ). Emmy award and Golden Globe winner, Maverick Spirit Award honoree Jane Lynch brings her very special presence to every project with which she’s involved. Multi-talented, statuesque, and undeniably charismatic, when she’s on screen, be it big or small, it’s impossible to take your eyes off her. A conversation with Jane Lynch and award presentation will precede the screening of her delightful new comedy, Writer’s Block, on Saturday, March 11, at 4:15 pm, California Theatre.

Producer-Writer-Director, Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In The Air ). Early in his career, Jason Reitman established an amazingly simple credo: “I don’t want to make films that give you the answer. If there is a message to my films-and I hope there isn’t-it’s to be open-minded.” His screenplays and direction are masterful examples of subtle poignancy. A conversation with Jason Reitman (and award presentation) will occur as part of Cinequest’s Writers Celebration on Sunday, March 5, at 1:30 pm, Hammer Theatre.

Virtual Reality : It’s fitting that Cinequest, the long-time leader in showcasing and implementing pioneering technologies that have revolutionized the film medium, would produce a vanguard VR & AR experience. Cinequest’s Virtual Reality Experience features: 1) Workshops & Forums providing a major foundation/platform for emerging and established Artists & Innovators to understand the opportunities, how-to’s, and challenges present in VR & AR; 2) VR Cinema Audience Programs and a VR Canteen & Immersive Gallery, making available the latest, greatest VR movies, games, and interactive experiences to audiences; 3) The inaugural Cinequest VR Awards. Please see the Cinequest Virtual Reality Experience press release or visit www.cinequest.org/virtualreality for more details.

New Redwood City Venues Added to Magnificent San Jose Theatres : Cinequest’s Board and Founders are proud to announce increasing the festival’s San Jose presence and services by increased utilization of the spectacular California and Hammer Theatres, as well as adding screenings and events at Cinemark Santana Row, Fairmont San Jose, San Jose Stage Company, and Uchida Hall on the San Jose State campus. Further increasing our screening venues, Cinequest is expanding to the gorgeous, state of the art Cinemark Century 20 in Redwood City.

Notable World, North American and United States Film Premieres : Cinequest presents a superlative lineup of 132 World and U.S. premieres. Please see the Cinequest Premieres press release for full line-up which includes:

ACTORS ANONYMOUS – Based on the novel by and starring Academy Award-nominee James Franco, featuring Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight) – World Premiere
THE BLACK PRINCE – Starring Shabana Azmi (Neerja, 24: India), Jason Flemyng (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch); directors and producers from Bay Area – World Premiere
CELTIC SOUL – Starring Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, This is the End)
THE DUNNING MAN – Starring James Carpinello (Gotham) – World Premiere
FIXED – Starring Erinn Hayes (Children’s Hospital), Andy Comeau (One Hour Photo), Alan Ruck (Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Spin City), Keesha Sharp (Lethal Weapon), Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), Nelson Franklin (Black-ish, The New Girl) – World Premiere
FORGOTTEN MAN – Starring Jerry Hall (Batman, 1989) – World Premiere
HEDGEHOG – Starring Madeline Brewer (Orange is the New Black), Ann Dowd (Masters of Sex, The Leftovers) – World Premiere
IMITATION GIRL – Starring Lewis Black ( The Daily Show, Inside Out) – World Premiere
LOVESICK – featuring Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky), Jessica Pare (Mad Men), and Jay Baruchel (How to Train Your Dragon)
MAY FIFTEENTH IN PARIS (short) – Executive Produced by Barbara De Fina (Casino, Goodfellas) – World Premiere
METAMORPHOSIS JUNIOR YEAR: Executive producer James Franco; Produced by Tom Franco; based on the novel by Betsy Franco – World Premiere
QUALITY PROBLEMS – Starring Chris Mulkey (Whiplash, Captain Phillips), Mo Gaffney (That ’70s Show; Happy, Texas) – World Premiere
SECLUDED – starring Emilie Claudius Kruse (You and Me Forever)
THE SOUNDING – featuring Harris Yulin (Training Day), Teddy Sears (The Flash) – World Premiere
SHOW BUSINESS (short) – Starring Kristen Bell (Frozen ), Erinn Hayes (Children’s Hospital), Robert Wuhl (Bull Durham, Batman), Steven Weber (House of Lies, Wings), Alessandra Torresani (Big Bang Theory); directed by Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine, Greek, Clark and Michael) – World Premiere
SOY UNOENTRECIENMIL (short) – Directed by Penelope Cruz (Volver)
THIS IS MEG – Starring Debra Wilson (MADtv), Krista Allen (Emmanuelle), Carlos Alazraqui (Happy Feet, Inside Out), Jill-Michele Melean (MADtv) – World Premiere
THE UNATTAINABLE STORY – Starring Irina Björklund (The American), Harry Hamiln (LA Law), Edoardo Ballerini (The Sopranos)
THE VALLEY – Director Saila Kariat is from Bay Area – World Premiere
WILD MAN – Starring Ted Welch (True Blood), Kate Upton (The Other Woman), Stefanie Black (Scandal), Mike Vogel (Under the Dome) – World Premiere
YOU ARE MY SUNDAY – Starring Barun Sobti (Shraddha ) and Shahana Goswami (Midnight’s Children)

Notable Star Performances:

CARRIE PILBY – Starring Ben Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Nathan Lane (The Birdcage), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects), Vanessa Bayer (SNL)
THE COMMUNE – Directed by Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt, The Celebration)
GOLDSTONE – Starring Aaron Pedersen (Mystery Road), Alex Russell (Blood in the Water, Carrie), Pei Pei Cheng (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
INDIA IN A DAY – Executive Producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner), produced by Google
THE LAST WORD – Starring Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Mrs. Winterbourne, Postcards from the Edge), Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables, Big Love, Mamma Mia!), Anne Heche (Wag the Dog), Philip Baker Hall (Bruce Almighty); directed by Mark Pellington (Arlington Road)
MR. INVINCIBLE – Starring Alyson Stoner (Cheaper by the Dozen, Step Up) and Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy). Work-in-progress screening.
MY MOM AND THE GIRL (short) – starring Valerie Harper
THE OTTOMAN LIEUTENANT – Starring Michiel Huisman (Game of Thrones), Hera Hilmar (Da Vinci’s Demons), Josh Harnett (Penny Dreadful) and Sir Ben Kingsley (Schindler’s List)
THE PROMISE – Starring Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk), Christian Bale (Batman Begins); directed by Academy Award-winning Terry George (Hotel Rwanda)
PYROMANIAC – Directed by Erik Skjoldbjærg (Insomnia)
(RE)ASSIGNMENT – starring Michelle Rodriguez (Avatar, The Fast and the Furious), Sigourney Weaver (Aliens, Ghostbusters)
THE SENSE OF AN ENDING – Starring Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter), Charlotte Rampling (Melancholia), Emily Mortimer (Lars and the Real Girl, Shutter Island)
SHAME (short) – Executive Produced by Denzel Washington
THOSE EYES (short) – Starring Ethan Embry (Can’t Hardly Wait, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle)
TOMMY’S HONOUR – Starring Sam Neill (Jurassic Park), Peter Mullan (Trainspotting), Ophelia Lovibond (Guardians of the Galaxy); directed by Jason Connery (Sean Connery’s son)
UNA – Starring Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One)
WRITER’S BLOCK (short) – Jane Lynch (Glee, Wreck It Ralph)
THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE – Starring two-time Academy Award-nominated Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane, Zero Dark Thirty), Daniel Brühl (The Fifth Estate, Captain America: Civil War), Johan Heldenbergh (The Broken Circle Breakdown); directed by Niki Caro ( Whale Rider; North Country; McFarland, USA)

We’ll have much more coverage coming… in the meantime, start making your plans to attend!

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About Derek McCaw
In addition to running Fanboy Planet, Derek has written for ActionAce, Daily Radar, Once Upon A Dime, and The Wave. He has contributed stories to Arcana Comics (The Greatest American Hero) and Monsterverse Comics (Bela Lugosi's Tales from the Grave). He performs with ComedySportz San Jose and ShakesBEERience, in addition to occasional screenwriting and acting jobs. If you ever played Eric's Ultimate Solitaire on the Macintosh, it was Derek's voice as The Weasel that urged you to play longer.