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Coming Soon: Cinequest Turns 25 et al.

Cinequest 25 - Art Film Bay Area

San Jose-based film festival Cinequest began in 1990 with screenings at the Camera 3 Theater which attracted 3,000 attendees.  This year, the festival co-founded by Halfdun Hussey and Kathleen Powell turns 25.   Over 100,000 people now attend the festival, which has expanded to several different venues in San Jose’s downtown including the California Theatre and the Camera 12.

This year’s Cinequest kicks off on February 24 with “Batkid Begins,” a documentary about how 5-year-old Miles Scott’s simple wish to be Batman for a day wound up becoming an event that touched the hearts of 1.84 billion people around the world, including that of President Obama.   Over the following 13 days, actress Rosario Dawson and filmmaker John Boorman will make personal appearances; acclaimed films such as Clouds of Sils Maria, The Mask You Live In, and L’Atalante will make appearances; and the Barco Escape programs will take the tri-screen theatrical format into the 21st century.  So come visit the festival that’s at the intersection of artistic creativity and technological innovation.

Cinequest runs February 24 to March 8 at various venues in San Jose.

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One of Cinequest 25’s offerings will be Wild Tales, Argentina’s entry for 2015’s Foreign Language Oscar.  The film is screened in conjunction with the festival’s Media Legacy Event honoring new media journalist Anne Thompson.  Fortunately for readers unable to make it down to San Jose for the screening, the Argentine film is being released commercially shortly thereafter.

Writer and director Damian Szifron’s feature is an anthology film.  It consists of six tales looking at the comic and catastrophic lengths  people will go to obtain  revenge.   The settings range from a case of roadside rudeness to a wedding which turns out to be a special day for far different reasons than normal.  Produced in part by Pedro Almodovar, Szifron’s film won a Goya Award for best Spanish language foreign film.  Its Cannes 2014 premiere screening ended with the audience giving it a 10-minute standing ovation.

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Mockumentaries and vampires may be two cinematic subjects that will probably induce eye-rolling in jaded filmgoers.  So why has the vampire mockumentary What We Do in The Shadows been earning critical plaudits?

It helps that the mad geniuses behind this film are Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, aka key talents behind the TV show Flight of the Conchords.  But the film’s alternate respect for and deadpan spoofing of vampire life through a reality show format are what makes the film entertaining.   Where else can you see vampire roommates arguing over dishes unwashed for five years?   Or how about using Twilight to explain to outsiders why they’re being filmed?  In short, Clement and Waititi show that living for hundreds of years doesn’t make you any less of a screw-up.

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About the Author

I'm a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film...but don't tell anyone.

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