Cinequest is Alive and Well, and Now in Virtual Reality

Movies
Photo Credit: Cinequest
Photo Credit: Cinequest

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Cinequest Film Festival launched it’s new name and new setup on Tuesday January 24th. Cinequest is bigger, and in more places, for many reasons.

Now with a Virtual Reality division, the renamed Cinequest Film & VR Festival is set to bring back everything attendees and art lovers enjoy, but with added venues, more content, and a fresh outlook.

Last year’s closing of Camera 12 Theaters in downtown San Jose forced the organization to look at several options without having to condense or bring down the number of films and events. Halfdan Hussey, co-founder and CEO of Cinequest said, “These were good friends, so it hurt, but we didn’t want to do less for Cinequest, so we didn’t want ‘a few adequate venues, a place to scrape by’. We have found amazing venues and solutions for this year that’s allowing us to increase the number of film events and special events during Cinequest. Last year’s celebrations we did 365 films, this year we’ll have 504. We’re doing just as much, if not more in San Jose.”

For this iteration, the focus remains in downtown San Jose, with expansion to Santana Row Cinemark Theater, as well the addition of a Redwood City theater, the Cinemark Century 20 multiplex in Redwood City, which will serve as a satellite location where all the movies from the festival will also be shown. In addition to the Cinequest favorites, the California Theater, and the Hammer Theater just down the street, a screening room at Santana Row’s Century Theater will serve as additional screen.

Hussey added, “We are ready to get bigger, and we can do that really well.” The core of the happenings, the forums, opening and closing night parties, as well as the soirees and late night get togethers, will happen in familiar downtown settings. “We’ll keep the Soiree series, and the Maverick Meet-ups in San Jose, making sure these businesses are well served. These people are loyal to us. We want to make sure that we keep hearing ‘we love you, that’s our best week of the year’.”

Two of the Maverick Spirit Award winners were named, actress Jane Lynch and writer-director Jason Reitman. Hussey hinted at a third one to be named in February. In addition, Bay Area films and creators will be highlighted both in the films, art and virtual reality offerings, which by the way sound very much at home in Silicon Valley, and in the storied tradition of Cinequest’s melding of art and tech innovation.  

This year’s Cinequest, like the one’s before it, promise more films, the same great venues and the addition of an impressive virtual reality lineup, along with an opportunity to watch some films at Santana Row and Redwood City. As Cinequest expands though, Hussey points out that this is a San Jose festival at its core.  “I think we’ll have more people come to San Jose than last year, and that was 102,00 people. We should be able to pull that off. And when you hear about the lineup, I think, we should pull that off. I’m pretty damn sure.” The crowd greets this with laughter and applause.

The website for this year’s  film lineup, events and tickets and is live now on cinequest.org.

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