Cinequest Kicks Off Two Weeks of Film, Awards & VR

01 Mar, 2017

Cinequest Film & VR Festival 2017 (February 28th to March 12th) kicked off last night at downtown San Jose’s California Theatre with an Opening Night Screening of director Mark Pellington’s THE LAST WORD starring Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Mrs. Winterbourne, Postcards from the Edge) and Amanda Seyfried (Les Misérables, Big Love, Mamma Mia!) followed by fun post-screening festivities at The Farmers Union.

[Top featured photo: Post-screening Q&A with THE LAST WORD dir. Mark Pellington]

Further highlights of the festival include:

Closing Night Screening and Celebration: March 12, 6:00 pm, California Theatre with The Zookeeper’s Wife, directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country) and starring two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), Johan Heldenbergh (The Broken Circle Breakdown) and Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War). Adapted from Diane Ackerman’s best-selling book, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the true story of Antonina and Jan Żabiński, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during WWII, hiding them in the Warsaw Zoo. The Cinequest Film & Cinequest VR Awards will take place prior to the screening and the night will be topped off with post-screening festivities at The Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown.

Cinequest will also hold Maverick Spirit Award Events, an award that honors 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.

This year’s Maverick Spirit Award 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. In addition, the festival will feature Virtual Reality. 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.

Venues for Cinequest include an expansion into Redwood City to San Jose Theatres at the impressive 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:

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) Page 3 of 4
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) Page 4 of 4
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 (The Help, Zero Dark Thirty), Johan Heldenbergh (The Broken Circle Breakdown), and Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War); directed by Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country)

A vanguard organization set in the Silicon Valley, Cinequest’s uniqueness and impact result from being ahead of the curve in the powerful integration of creativity and technology. Cinequest fuses the world of the filmed arts with that of Silicon Valley’s innovation to empower youth, artists, and innovators to create and connect – driving transformations and a better tomorrow. Cinequest does this through Cinequest Film & VR Festival, Picture The Possibilities (PTP), and its sister company Cinequest Mavericks Studio. (Voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers.)

Cinequest 2017 Partners: Applied Materials (NYSE: AMAT), Kaiser Permanente, Harmonic (NYSE: HLIT), Unity Technologies, Canon (NYSE: CAJ), IMDb an Amazon Company (AMZN), Panasonic (OTCMKTS:PCRFY), Stella Artois (NYSE: AHBIF), Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Google (NYSE: GOOG), AMD Radeon (NYSE: AMD), RED, Samsung (KSE:KS005935), Hint Water, Comerica Incorporated (NYSE: CMA), Agile Ticketing Solutions, NBC Bay Area, Metro, KQED, SF Media Co., Telemundo, Cinemark (NYSE: CNK), Fairmont San Jose (NYSE: FHR), Hyatt Place San Jose Downtown (NYSE: H), Hilton San Jose (NYSE: HLT), Marriott San Jose (NYSE: MAR), Hotel De Anza, Wiivv, Barco (EBR:BAR), VTA, Caltrain, SamTrans, Eddie Lira, SV Creates, San Jose Downtown Association, Team San Jose, and the City of San Jose

PTP Partners: Kaiser Permanente, The Hearst Foundations, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Capital Group, Hewlett Packard Workstations (NYSE: HPQ), Brett Company, Google (NYSE: GOOG), Liquid Agency, Seagate (NYSE: STX), Litepanels, Cisco (NYSC: CSCO), AudioTechnica, Media Center, Adobe (NYSE: ADBE), Eddie Lira, GlideCam, Atomos, Rhino Camera Gear, Manfrotto, Red Giant (NYSE: REDG)

About the author

Cindy Maram

Cindy Maram is Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Dig In Magazine. She is an accredited film journalist for Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and CAAMFest, as well as fashion & style photographer/blogger for London Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week, professional sports photographer/writer and art critic. She is a writer, vlogger & social media community manager possessing a B.A from UC Davis and a M.A. in Mass Communications + Popular Culture Studies emphasis in Film/Marketing/Writing from Cal State Fullerton.

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