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California Theater, one of three locations of the Cinequest Film Festival | Courtesy of Cinequest
California Theater, one of three locations of the Cinequest Film Festival | Courtesy of Cinequest
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Everything You Need To Know About The Cinequest 2016 Film Festival

Picture of Neha Pearce
Updated: 2 December 2016
While the Bay Area is known for its exciting technological innovations, its equally rich art scene is not to be overlooked — consider visiting Cinequest’s 26th annual film festival, which takes place from March 1st to 13th in San Jose. The Oscars may be over, but Cinequest provides viewers with the opportunity to attend 128 U.S. and world premieres, interact with filmmakers, and have a place for cinema, technology, and the cultures of the world to unite.

Cinequest offers 13 days of 240 feature length and short films that span a variety of genres and 49 different countries. 3,000 films were sent in during the open-submission process, and the films shown at Cinequest were selected by a team so that they can go on to be judged by a jury and voted upon by the audience in order to win various awards. Many of the feature films are preceded by short films and the screenings are often accompanied by Q&A’s with the filmmakers, parties, and special events such as the Maverick Spirit Awards honoring James Franco, Rita Moreno, and Robert Hawk accompanied by the films they are starring in (Adderall Diaries, Remember Me, and Film Hawk, respectively.) Individual feature screening tickets are priced at $11 for general admission, $8 for matinee, and $6 for students. Special events range from $12 to $100. All purchases can be made at the box offices at the three festival locations (Camera 12 Cinemas, Hammer Theatre Center, and the California Theatre) or online to by-pass the lines.

Cinequest 2016 flyer with sponsors | Courtesy of Cinequest
Cinequest 2016 flyer with sponsors | Courtesy of Cinequest

Cinequest features many producers who are making their film debuts, according to the Director of Programming, Michael Rabehl. ‘We show a lot of first time film-makers, so it’s a starting point for them,’ Rabehl explains. ‘For me, coming from a background with artists — as an artist — I tend to like discovering new voices and I like sharing those voices with audiences.’

Film Icon and Maverick Spirit Award Winner Rita Moreno stars in the world premiere screening of Remember Me | Courtesy of Cinequest
Film Icon and Maverick Spirit Award Winner Rita Moreno stars in the world premiere screening of Remember Me | Courtesy of Cinequest

As a film festival and as a company, Cinequest uniquely works to combine the sciences and the arts by incorporating cutting-edge technology into their productions and by hosting their youth outreach program, Picture the Possibilities. Last year, Cinequest was the first film festival to feature Barco Escape, a spellbinding three-screen, panoramic viewing experience. This year, Mavericks Studio, Cinequest’s sister company, collaborated with Barco Escape to produce the first feature film made specifically for the format, Mr. Incredible, as well as six short films.

‘I think the location in Silicon Valley allows us to be a little bit more innovative. We show films like other festivals, but we incorporate a lot of innovation into it. I mean, we were the first festival to essentially show digital cinema,’ Rabehl says. ‘Back in the mid-90s, we were showing Quick-Time movies and people were saying, “no, that’s not going to be the future, there’s nothing in that,” and now-a-days, that’s what it is.’

2015 screening at Barco’s multi-screen panoramic format at Camera 12 | Courtesy of Cinequest
2015 screening at Barco’s multi-screen panoramic format at Camera 12 | Courtesy of Cinequest

If you have difficulty choosing which films to see, with such exciting prospects like Alan Rickman’s last film, Eye in the Sky, a feature directed by Gavin Hood exploring the complex issue of drone warfare, or The Little Prince, a stop-motion animated adventure starring Marion Cotillard, Jeff Bridges, and Paul Giamatti, there are several specialty passes to ensure you get the most bang for your buck. The Film Lover Pass gets you into all regular film screenings, all Media Legacy Events, Silent Cinema Cinema, and all Encore Day Screenings for $155. If the events are more your thing, the Mavericks Pass for $250 will get you into opening and closing night screenings and parties and all of the upcoming special events. Although there are meet-ups after screenings that are available to all ticket and pass holders, if you’re interested in something more exclusive, the VIP all-access pass is the one for you. For $500 this affords you access to all events, VIP parties, and the VIP lounge.

A still from Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirrem Alan Rickman, Iain Glen, Barkhad Abdi, and Aaron Paul | Courtesy of Cinequest
A still from Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirrem Alan Rickman, Iain Glen, Barkhad Abdi, and Aaron Paul | Courtesy of Cinequest

‘I think one of the biggest things that people who haven’t been don’t know is that it’s not just films,’ Rabehl says. ‘You don’t come here and just see a film and leave. When you come here it’s almost — I mean it’s kind of a cheesy term — but it’s a film village. It’s this community. You find these places where people talk with each other about what they’ve seen, and then they recommend — it actually engages people.’

Attendees from Cinequest film festival 2015 enjoy the red carpet | Courtesy of Cinequest
Attendees from Cinequest film festival 2015 enjoy the red carpet | Courtesy of Cinequest