The Perfect Film Festival in a Glorious Place

Why go to a film festival when you can watch movies on your favorite device at home or on the go? It’s called people. Community. At the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival you can call it reel life social. People from the Bay Area and the Globe, 52 countries by last count, will gather to discover the latest, the greatest in movies, virtual and augmented reality. And you get to experience it first as Cinequest presents 154 World and U.S. Premiere screenings and experiences, most with their actors and directors on hand to engage and present. Best you get to share your thoughts with these artists, your friends, and other attendees.

There’s quite a lineup at that offers a feast of films for different tastes. Here’s a few staff hot pick films:

All Joking Aside | LaughsA young woman who dreams of becoming a stand-up comic forms an unlikely friendship with a jaded former comedian after he heckles her off the stage. Country: Canada (World Premiere)

Asking for It | LaughsA journalist takes justice into her own hands when her internet stalker walks free from the law. Starring: Stephanie Hsu (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Path), Irene Morales (Labor Days), Janeane Garofalo, (Wet Hot American Summer, The Truth About Cats and Dogs.) Country: USA (World Premiere)

Before the Fire | ThrillsAfter a global pandemic, an up and coming TV star is forced to flee the mounting chaos in L.A. and return to her rural hometown. Starring: Jenna Lyng Adams (The Kominsky Method) Country: USA (World Premiere)

Bleeding Audio | LifeTold through the eyes of quirky, charming, and humble bandmates; an intimate portrait detailing The Matches’ promising career, defeating break up, and inspiring reunion, as they reflect on what success truly means for musicians in today’s digital industry. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Butter | LifeA bullied, lonely obese teenager everyone calls “Butter” threatens to eat himself to death, live on the Internet, but it makes him popular. Starring: Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion), Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump, Heat), Annabeth Gish (Mystic Pizza, The Haunting of Hill House). Country: USA (World Premiere)

Disrupted | ThrillsAn Oakland widower’s thirst for justice is rekindled when a local killing is oddly similar to his wife’s unsolved murder from decades ago. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Far East Deep South | LifeA Chinese-American family’s search for their roots leads them to the Mississippi Delta, where they stumble upon surprising family revelations and uncover the racially complex history of the early Chinese in the segregated South. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Faraway Eyes | LaughsAn out-of-work actor dies right after a bad breakup, awakening into an afterlife in which he learns he must find true love among the other recently dead single New Yorkers in order to pass over to the other side. Starring: Christina Ricci (The Addams Family, The Ice Storm, Black Snake Moan, The Opposite of Sex Country: USA (World Premiere)

Fried Barry | ThrillsAn alien assumes control of a drug addict’s body and takes it for a bizarre joyride through Cape Town, South Africa. Country: South Africa (World Premiere)

John Pinette: You Go Now | LaughsComedian John Pinette rocketed to fame in the 90s, where his kind, outsized personality was equally matched by his outsized frame. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Love Type D | Laughs A woman who has been dumped eleven times in a row, discovers to her dismay that she has a loser in love gene. Country: United Kingdom (North American Premiere)

The Mimic | LaughsAn exploration of the lighter side of being a sociopath, when a writer is befriended by a younger neighbor, and his life is upturned. Starring: Jake Robinson (The Carrie Diaries), Thomas Sadoski (Life in Pieces), M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner), Marilu Henner (Taxi), Austin Pendleton (My Cousin Vinny), Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), Gina Gershon (Bound). Country: USA (World Premiere)

Naughty Books | LifeAs sexy as it is smart, Naughty Books examines the steamy world of erotic romance, following three self-published authors who go from living at the margins to making millions. Narrators: Aimee Garcia (Dexter, Lucifer), Allison Tolman (Emergence, Fargo), Aisha Tyler (Criminal Minds, Archer). Country: USA (World Premiere)

Shifter | ThrillsA young woman struggles with the painful and gruesome side effects of an experiment with time travel gone wrong that causes her to lose control and shift through time at random. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Useless Humans | LaughsA thirtieth birthday — and the survival of mankind — are left hanging in the balance after a mysterious creature crashes the party, forcing five childhood friends to save the world. Country: USA (World Premiere)

Cinequest is known for being the first to showcase technologies that impact creativity and the connection of people to creative work. This year they present their fourth Virtual and Augmented reality showcase running in parallel with the film festival. Here’s a few highlights:

DINO MUNDI | XR Experience | Travel to an ancient time when dinosaurs ruled our young planet where you’ll walk and be transported through 3 different worlds of dinosaurs. An experience which will engage all your senses. Country: USA & Brazil (North American Premiere) 

LIFE-GIVER | VR Cinema | Director(s): Petter Lindblad, Alexander Rönnberg | A mother and her daughters, caught in a dystopian future where the environment is completely destroyed, fight to ensure they are part of the planetary evacuation. Country: Sweden (World Premiere) 

MS. VERTIGO | VR Cinema | Director(s): Rona Soffer | Rona lost her ability to keep her balance after a childhood car accident. She dreams of moving to the rhythm of music. In her mind she never lost her freedom, and with the help of dance partners, can her body keep up? Country: Israel (World Premiere) 

MUSEUM ALIVE WITH DAVID ATTENBOROUGH | AR Experience Come face to face with breathtaking extinct creatures, guided by Natural History legend Sir David Attenborough. See a Dimorphodon fly and discover what lies under the skin of a leaping Sabre-toothed tiger. Country: United Kingdom (North American Premiere) 

OUT THERE | AR Musical The world’s first truly immersive AR musical with the beautiful voice of Vanessa Williams! Immersed in the song, you’ll explore a real-life set, meeting Liv, a young girl who has never left her bedroom and longs to fly away like the birds in the paintings decorating her room. Country: France / USA (North American Premiere) 

WARPED | VR Cinema | Director(s): Bryan Robbins | Piloting a spacecraft around a space station to investigate a signal disturbance, you’re suddenly greeted by unfriendly visitors. Country: USA (World Premiere) 

In previous years they’ve given their Maverick Spirit Award to Nicolas Cage, Rosario Dawson, J.J. Abrams, Harrison Ford, and Elle Fanning. This year it goes to Hong Chau, Ruth Weiss, and Jesse Eisenberg

The human sharing and live connectivity is the heart of the Cinequest community experience, and to foster that they have many social opportunities:

They have a series of nightly Socials in San Jose and a great “night on the town” concept called Redwood City Meet The Artists Parties which gets you a film, booze, and music for $20.

A full lineup of happy-hour meetups called Soirees occur in various San Jose venues plus the new Chan Zuckerberg Institute facility in Redwood City.

So this is your chance to get out of the house, grab some friends, or meet some new ones, and socialize around some very affordable film premieres and more at Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival in San Jose and Redwood City, March 3 – 15.

All event information, tickets, and passes at

–P.D. Crane

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