Cinequest Film Festival 22
Downtown San Jose, California
February 28 to March 11, 2012
(408) 295-3378 (FEST)

Screening venues and events in San Jose
Passes $145, $250 and $500
Screenings $10, matinees $7, students $5
Special event tickets $10 to $50
Festival guides available at Peet’s Coffee & Tea and on line as a PDF version

Meet the personalities behind innovative, international films at San Jose’s Cinequest Film Festival, which also honors innovative chefs and hosts nightly gatherings at some of the area’s top restaurants. Cinequest Film Festival 22 shows 188 films from 44 countries with 600 visiting artists each aiming at the integration of creativity and technology. Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell co-founded the festival, which this year honors innovation with the Maverick Spirit Awards. In 2012, the award goes to San Francisco-based screenwriter Phillip Kaufman during the writers’ celebration. Young filmmakers will also be on hand to show their work and social leadership at locations around the world with Picture the Possibilities, which provides mentors and takes donations. Here are some of the events highlights this year.

Opening night screening and party

“The Lady” screening
California Theater
345 South First St.
San Jose, California
Party at the new Hyatt Place

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Price: $50

Director Luc Besson opens the festival with “The Lady,” the true story of a woman imprisoned by a military junta for 15 years for her democratic leadership after after returning home to Burma from Oxford. Michelle Yeoh plays the defiant leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, while David Thewlis plays her gentle British husband. The post-screening party, at the new Hyatt Place San Jose on Almaden Boulevard, will have cocktails, food and music.


VIP soirees and Ticket holder meet-ups
Various restaurants

Dates: February 29 through March 10, VIP soirees each night at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Meet-ups for ticket and pass holders follow at 9:30 p.m. to whenever

Care to relax and mingle? Meet at the Palm Bar at Il Fornaio, Gordon Biersch, the Fairmont Bar & Lobby, Azucar Latin Bistro (pictured, right) and more. Enjoy the company of filmmakers, technological innovators and business personalities with hors d’oeuvres at a different restaurant about town each night with a VIP all access pass. If you don’t have a pass, mingle later at a meet-up. Meet-ups start at 9:30 p.m. each night at the same venues, open to all ticket and pass holders.

Maverick Spirit Awards

Elliot Gould
California Theatre
Date: Friday, March 2, 2012 at 9:30 p.m.
Price: $10

Brooklyn native Elliot Gould will be presented with a Cinequest Maverick Spirit award on Friday after a special screening of “Dorfman,” a romantic comedy about a young man who must transition from suburban life to downtown Los Angeles living.

Chef Michael Miller
Sunday, March 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Price: VIP All Access Pass required

CBS personality Liam Mayclem moderates a chat between chefs Michal Mina and Michael Miller, who will be presented with Maverick Spirit Awards for their innovations. Chef Miller will receive the Emerging Maverick Spirit Award for his concepts with molecular gastronomy and unique cooking techniques. Award-winning chef and restauranteur Michael Mina will also be celebrated for his innovation in the culinary world.

Phillip Kaufman
San Jose Repertory Theatre
101 Paseo de San Antonio
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 367-7255

Date: Friday, March 9, 2012 at 3 p.m.
Price: $15

A Maverick Spirit Award goes to San Francisco-based Philip Kaufman. Kaufman wrote the upcoming “Hemingway and Gelhorn,” a film about Hemingway’s affair with a journalist, played by Nicole Kidman and filmed in the San Francisco Bay Area. The film screens on HBO in May. Local San Francisco casting agent Sarah Kliban plays a madam in the Spanish bordello scene. Local Bay Area background actors also played the Europeans during war time and had to be slender for the film to reflect food rationing. Kaufman also wrote the screenplay for the “Unbearable Lightness of Being” with Juliette Binoche and Daniel Day Lewis. His work ranges from “The Right Stuff,” about astronauts to “Henry and June,” about Henry Miller’s affair with Anais Nin.

Terence Davies
California Theatre
Date: Saturday, March 10 at 7 p.m.
Price: $10 to $50

Director Terence Davies of “The Deep Blue Sea” will also receive an award on Saturday at the California Theatre. A visionary story-teller, Davies is being awarded for his fascinating look into the human experience.

Writers celebration
San Jose Repertory Theater

Date: Friday, March 9, 2012 at 8 a.m. to 5: p.m., three parts
Price: $20 or $15 for Part Three, the Maverick Award

Looking to make headway in the film industry? Mingle with professional writers who will share insight on how to turn a screenplay into a film.The writers celebration comes in three parts, with part three being the Philip Kaufman Maverick Spirit Award presentation. Part runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and covers how to pitch a screenplay; part two will take place from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and covers the business of writing with a Q&A panel consisting of talented film industry professionals.

(credit: Thinkstock)

Film Screenings
Four theaters in San Jose
Price: $10, $7 matinees, $5 students 

The festival screens 188 films and shorts, un-rated. The screenings are sure to offer many highlights. “The Movement: One Man Joins an Uprising” shows March 3 by Kurt Miller, who continues the legacy of the extreme skiing film maker Warren Miller. Kurt, a former Maverick Award winner, features disabled skiers—blind athletes and the ParaOlympics.

Screenings promise more thrills with Orlando Bloom on March 5, staring in a psycho-sexual film called “The Good Doctor” while “The Bully Project” on March 4 and 6 examines the fact that 18 million young Americans will be bullied this year.

Alexander Sokurov’s new “Faust” screens three times: March 1, 4 and 8. Sokurov filmed this as the last in a three-film consideration of the nature of power and won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival this year.

The narrative competition includes a Norwegian coming-of-age film by Jens Lien called “Sons of Norway or “Sonnor av Norge” about two boys who lose their mother after Christmas when she’s hit by a truck. They have lost their protected childhood and one turns angry, picking up guitar and punk music for self-expression. “Sons of Norway” screens March 2, 7 and 8.

Silent Cinema
California Theater


Date: Friday, March 9, 2012
Price: $10

What are love and immortality worth? Watch the 1926 silent opera film “Faust” by Mirnau, who directed “Nosferatu,” with a live musical score performance by Dennis James. It’s the story of an alchemist who sells his soul to the devil. James is the quirky and funny veteran organist who accompanied “Phantom of the Opera” for Halloween at the SF Symphony a couple of years ago, dressed as the phantom.

Gourmet food trucks and screenings
California Theater and Camera 12 Theater

Date: Sunday, March 11, 2012
Screenings 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Food trucks 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: Screenings $10

Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, Kara’s Cupcakes, Jon’s Street Eats, Tikka Bytes and many others bring savory and sweet treats to you on the street.

Closing night screening and party

“The Deep Blue Sea” screening
The California Theater
Party at The Tech Museum

(credit: Music Box Films)

Date: Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Price: $50

Ever feel caught between the Devil and “The Deep Blue Sea“?  Showing at a theater built in 1927, it’s Maverick Award winner Terence Davies’ film about a post-war London love affair between a married woman and a self-centered pilot. Davies himself was born into 1945 post-war Liverpool to a working class family with an abusive, alcoholic parent. The filmmaker infuses his work with beauty and music evoking nostalgia and a romantic era, with Oscar winner Rachel Weisz playing Hester, the stifled wife, to Tom Hiddleston’s pilot. Although Hester leads a pedestrian life with her husband, she’s ready to sacrifice her marriage even though the pilot fails to desire her as much as she loves him.  The film involves emotional fragility, but whose?

Related: Win Passes to “The Deep Blue Sea”

Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on