Cinequest: The South Bay’s Big Film Festival

I cover SFFilm extensively, and Mill Valley pretty well, but I can’t seem to get to Cinequest, the Bay Area’s other big, red-carpet film festival. Part of the problem is geography; I hate going to the Peninsula. Another reason is time-related. I’m generally very busy on non-film work January through March.

Which is unfortunate, because The Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival, as it is newly renamed, is about technology as well as art. I’m a tech journalist as well as a film blogger.

The festival runs from March 5 to March 17, in San Jose and Redwood City.

I don’t have time to preview any of this year’s films, which means I can’t review them before or during the festival. But I heartily recommend the Silent Cinema event starring Buster Keaton. It’s an interesting and very entertaining choice, starting with the short The High Sign – the first movie where Keaton had control over his work. It will be followed by one of his best features, Steamboat Bill, Jr., which was the last film he made before he lost that control.

In Steamboat Bill, Jr., Keaton plays the effeminate son of a macho steamboat captain who’s fighting against big business (Ernest Torrence). Breathtaking and exciting, and very funny, it contains what is probably the most dangerous stunt ever performed in a movie, and almost certainly the most dangerous one done by a major star. You can read my Blu-ray review.

The movies play at San Jose’s California Theatre on Friday, March 15, at 7:00. Dennis James will accompany the program on the theater’s Wurlitzer Organ.

Not surprisingly, Cinequest provides virtual reality experiences. These VR Cinema Programs run from three to 22 minutes. Topics include Chinese air pollution, a vampire who seems to be inspired by Murnau’s Noseratu, and important scientists. There’s also a VR Experience Lounge.

And, of course, there are movies. Here are a few that make me wish I had an easy way to San Jose:

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

This is the movie we all thought Terry Gilliam would never be able to make. In fact, the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha was all about how it fell apart early in production. But 17 years later, here it is. The Closing Night show.

Hotel Mumbai

Mumbai was attacked by terrorists in 2008. This film “celebrates the real heroes – the ordinary men, and women of Mumbai, who came together in an unprecedented, horrific, and chaotic scenario, to work together to save the city they loved.” At least that’s what they say on the Cinequest website.

The Truth About Marriage

In this comic documentary, Roger Nygard tries to figure out the truth about the human animal’s longest and persistent institution. Which brings up the question: Why would anyone want to live in an institution? (To be honest, I’m happily married.)