Getting Ready For Cinequest 2016

Soon, Ric Bretschneider and I will be sitting down with Michael Rabehl, program director of Cinequest, to talk about what’s going to happen in downtown San Jose for Cinequest 2016. After last year’s introduction of Barco Escape, a three-screen projection process that has some very interesting storytelling possibilities, we knew that there would be more coming this year. Mr. Invincible, a full-length Barco Escape feature produced by Cinequest, will be the capper for a variety of programming in that new format.

The venerable Silicon Valley film festival will also put a spotlight on virtual reality, Maverick filmmaking, and a few celebrities — including James Franco, who really does fit that Maverick definition. For every mainstream film he does, he detours in three or four unexpected directions. Not everything works, but Franco is truly committed as an artist, and he has my respect for also being committed to education.

For some of us, though, it’s seeing that Rita Moreno will be there that makes our hearts soar. A tremendous actor and entertainer, she, too, has been committed to arts education, and truly broke ground as an actress in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Take a look at some of the highlights ahead of time (including one of Alan Rickman’s last performances), be on the lookout for our podcast, and be ready for deeper coverage from Cinequest itself.

From Cinequest:

Cinequest Film Festival (CQFF), March 1-13, 2016 will unite 700 world leading artists and innovators with audiences (expected to top 100,000) in the Silicon Valley to experience the fusion of creativity and innovation—and to celebrate and reimagine storytelling via film and new technologies.

  • Cinequest’s Future Of Film Showcase reimagines storytelling and audience experiences of filmed media. Cinequest has always stood at the forefront of film’s future possibilities, discovering technology and talent and enabling them to connect, both collaboratively and with audiences. Here’s this year’s take on what’s hot today and driving the future:
    • The First Barco Escape Three-Screen Feature Film: Technology has always facilitated the film arts, and Barco Escape tech¬nologies new three-screen format brings a thrilling new cinematic experience to audiences and a dramatic opportunity to film artists. Cinequest presents the first fully realized (end-to-end) three-screen feature film, Mr. Invincible. Starring Alyson Stoner (Cheaper By The Dozen, Step Up), Bill Engvall (Blue Collar Comedy Group), and written by Cinequest Screenplay Competition Winner Stacie Shellner, Mr. Invincible , a comedy about a man who cannot kill himself, plays as a work-in-progress. Cinequest has also commissioned members of its illustrious filmmaker community to create diverse short film experiences in three-screen format. These short films and more will play in the future of film Barco Escape series.
    • Storytelling Reimagined Conclave: Global Leaders (representing diverse media, art, and technology fields) join Cinequest’s Leadership Council for an electrifying event around story-telling opportunities in new and exciting media. It used to be that story-telling was relegated to “the creatives.” Now filmed story-telling is a normal part of people’s lives from social media to executive communications. Further, new technologies, such as virtual reality, open new ways for audiences to experience stories and for artists to tell them. Conclave event will include a moderated conversation with a thrilling roundtable of leaders, video presentations, and a Maverick Spirit Award presentation to a futuristic and dynamic story-teller, James Franco. The Conclave will give leaders a chance to cross-pollinate and grow their ideas with a stunning group of thought influencers from different walks of life, forging inspiration, collaborations and opportunity for our future.
    • Virtual Reality Experience: CQFF will unveil a ground-breaking Virtual Reality experience. Venturing into the “Virtual Reality Lounge,” Cinequest attendees will once again be on the cutting edge of a new, viable technology that reimagines the story-telling tradition.


  • Opening Night Screening and Celebration: March 1, 7:15 pm, California Theatre: Academy Award-winning director Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) will present his captivating new thriller Eye in the Sky, starring Dame Helen Mirren (The Queen, Trumbo), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Die Hard), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey),Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad ). Is the life of one innocent worth the lives of thousands? Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren) is in charge of a top-secret mission: to capture, not kill, a terrorist. Pre-screening includes special presentations and Jerry Nagano filling the lavish California Theatre with the glorious sounds of the Wurlitzer organ. Post-screening festivities and fun will take place at The Farmers Union.

“Cinequest is definitely the first time I’ve ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, ‘What do I have to do to be invited back?’ 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—the finest in the worlds of Silicon Valley innovation and the film arts. Previous guest recipients include: 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. This year’s recipients are:
    • Actor-writer-educator, James Franco. Mr. Franco has amassed well over 100 acting credits, including 127 Hours, (Best Actor Academy Award nomination), Milk, Spider-Man Trilogy, Pineapple Express, Oz the Great and Powerful, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Eat, Pray, Love. He is also an accomplished writer and committed to giving back as an educator of emerging youth. (Special Pre-festival event, Feb. 28, in conjunction with Cinequest’s Storytelling Reimagined Conclave. Event details TBA.)
    • Screen and American Icon, Rita Moreno. Star of the Robert Wise masterwork, West Side Story, Ms. Moreno has received America’s highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, as well as a stunning Kennedy Center Tribute. (A conversation with Ms. Moreno and Award Presentation occur after the world premiere of her new comedic gem, Remember Me Saturday, March 5, 7 pm, California Theatre.)
    • Champion-advocate, Robert Hawk. For over thirty years, Hawk has discovered new cinematic voices, nurtured those voices, and has been the unsung champion of some of the most influential independent cinema. Kevin Smith (Clerks), Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen),Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk), and Barbara Hammer (Nitrate Kisses ) have had a major impact on the world of cinema. Each and many others started their careers with a champion who never sought praise or a spotlight. His only wish was to see these artists reach the world with their work. That champion is Robert Hawk. (A conversation with Mr. Hawk and Award Presentation occur after a screening of the movie Film Hawk, Friday, March 4, 7:30 pm, Camera 12 Cinemas.)

  • Media Legacy Award Event: Cinequest’s Media Legacy Award recognizes the preeminent role journalists play in discovering artists and connecting audiences with their art.
    • This year, Cinequest is honored to present its Media Legacy Award to beloved journalist Owen Gleiberman (, Entertainment Weekly) after a screening of his favorite film, Manhunter, occurring Saturday, March 12, 7:00pm, Hammer Theatre Center, during CQFF2016. The event will include a dynamic conversation with Mr. Glerberman on his work and the world of cinema.
    • Previous media Legacy Award recipients include Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson of Indiewire, Harry Knowles, founder of Ain’t It Cool News, Richard von Busack of Metro Newspapers, and Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times.

  • Notable Premieres and Star Performances: Cinequest presents a superlative lineup of 128 World and U.S. premieres of which 64 have women directors. Please see the Cinequest Premieres Press Release for full line-up with includes:
    • Helen Mirren (The Queen, Trumbo), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter, Die Hard), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) in Eye in the Sky (Opening Night)
    • Geoffrey Rush (Shine), Ewen Leslie (Sleeping Beauty), Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings), Anna Torv (Fringe), Odessa Young (Wonderland), and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park) in The Daughter (Closing Night)
    • Alyson Stoner (Step Up), Bill Engvall (The Bill Engvall Show) in Mr. Invincible
    • Kevin Smith (Clerks), Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen), Ira Sachs (Love Is Strange), and Rob Epstein (Howl) in Film Hawk
    • Rita Moreno (West Side Story) in Remember Me
    • Gordon Getty (Composer and Subject) in Gordon Getty: There Will Be Music
    • Clea Duvall (Argo, American Horror Story) in Heaven’s Floor
    • Emma Watson (Harry Potter, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower) and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds, Rush) in Colonia
    • Jason Ritter (Parenthood) in Embers
    • Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men), Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), and Lucy Boynton (Miss Potter) in February
    • Annette O’Toole (Smallville) and John Glover (The Good Wife) in We Go On
    • Comedians Dana Carvey, Bob Saget, Paula Poundstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Bobcat Goldthwait, Bill Maher, and Robin Williams in The Comedy Club
    • Sally Field (Forrest Gump), Max Greenfield (New Girl) and Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer) in Hello, My Name Is Doris
    • Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs), Joely Fisher (Ellen), Michelle Hurd (90210), Natasha Gregson Wagner (Two Girls and a Guy), Nick Court (The Last Ship), Barry Watson (7th Heaven), Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted), Devon Graye (Dexter), and singing legend Connie Stevens in Search Engines
    • Grant Rosenmeyer (The Royal Tenenbaums) and Lindsey Shaw (Pretty Little Liars) in Temps
    • Aly Michalka (iZombie), AJ Michalka (The Goldbergs), and Mimi Rogers (Austin Powers) in Weepah Way for Now
    • James Franco (127 Hours), Ed Harris (Pollack), Amber Heard (The Danish Girl), Jim Parrack (True Blood), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), and Christian Slater (Mr. Robot) in The Adderall Diaries
    • Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Fluke) producer on The Brainwashing of My Dad
    • Penelope Cruz (Volver) in Ma Ma
    • Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Hairspray) and Amber Heard (The Danish Girl, Hidden Palms) in One More Time
    • Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea, The House of Mirth) director of Sunset Song
    • Briana Evigan (Step Up 2: The Streets), Tyler Blackburn (Pretty Little Liars), Emily Osment (Cyberbully), Kyla Kennedy (The Walking Dead), Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty), Elisabeth Röhm (The Client List), and Jeremy Sisto (Suburgatory) in Love Is All You Need?
    • Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Marion Cotillard (Inception), James Franco (127 Hours), Ricky Gervais (The Office), Paul Giamatti (Straight Outta Compton), Bud Cort (Pollack), Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy), and Albert Brooks (Finding Nemo) in The Little Prince
    • Briana Evigan (Step Up 2: The Streets) and Kerry Norton (Battlestar Galactica) in ToY
  • Closing Night Screening and Celebration: March 13, 6:00 pm, California Theatre: CQFF2016 culminates with the United States Premiere of Simon Stone’s beautiful and haunting The Daughter, which boasts an incredible ensemble cast including Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush (Shine), Ewen Leslie (Sleeping Beauty), Paul Schneider (Lars and the Real Girl), Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings), Anna Torv (Fringe), Odessa Young (Wonderland), and Sam Neill (Jurassic Park).

About Derek McCaw 1956 Articles
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. You can buy his book "I Was Flesh Gordon" on the Amazon link at the right. Email him at