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Cinequest 19
Feb. 25 - March 8, 2009 - San Jose, CA
12 DAYS OF CINEQUEST

CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL 19 - The premiere film festival event of the SF Bay Area, launched on Weds. Feb. 25, 2009. This is one of those events that makes us proud to live in San Jose (or Silicon Valley in general). Cinequest is officially noticed as one of the top 10 film festivals in the world, and the leader of digital and emerging technology in film. No easy feat, but it does put San Jose on the map for yet another reason.

The arts are important. That cannot be stressed enough. With so much going on in the country, and the world in general, it is important to offer something to our society and culture, where we can enjoy going out again, and don't feel robbed of our hard-earned dollars. Cinequest once again provided a far-reaching, variety of celluloid (or rather, digitized) delights in a array of subjects. From silly comedies, to dramatic thrillers, to the dramas of everyday life and people reaching their goals, all the way to subjects across the globe. Over 150 feature films were show, with an almost equal number of shorts. Films from across the globe from such places as Canada, Belgium, Iran, India, and other countries were shown. The documentaries that were featured were top notch and covered such diverse subjects as oil riggers in small communities in the midwest, to dealing with diabetes in Nepal, to the children living and working in trash dumps in Nicaragua, and a feature about Doctors Without Borders, who are considered arrogant, yet extremely necessary in saving lives in the worst and war-torn regions globally.

The arts are important, even as many schools cut funding for the arts and sports. What are kids to do today? Filmmaking is a great suggestion. It is something that can be done so much easier these days, and with clever thinking, can be done relatively inexpensively. Most important is that filmmaking offers anyone the chance to have a voice, and a visual, to share their story - whether fact or fiction. It allows feelings to pour forth. It can allow us to laugh and cry, to ponder and sigh. And best of all - in a festival like Cinequest - it allows a social camaraderie that allows all classes and types of people to come together in a setting of sharing and conversing.

An activity outside the home is so important in this day and age of he internet, and people doing so much within their confines. A festival such as Cinequest really allows ideas to be shared and expressed, with new thoughts to perhaps be formed.

To get down to it, it would be fair to say that Cinequest 19 was by far the best Cinequest yet. The vibe in the air was awakening. People really enjoyed chatting about film, bonding, and making new friends. The parties were fantastic, as were the Maverick Spirit awards, and the Q&A ("question and answer) sessions after many films. It was a perfect setting. (For some reason, I kept mixing up the name of party central "Billy Burke's," and calling it "Barry Bond's." I'm sure there was a Freudian slip in there somewhere.)

This is not to say that it was flawless, as there were a fair share of "interesting" events happening here and there during the festival (such as the Diablo Cody Maverick Spirit Award, and incidents after dark, as could be expected), as well as a brilliant show featuring Kevin Pollack.

But in an overall view, and especially as Cinequest does rely on funding, this is one of those events in Santa Clara County that absolutely MUST be looked at by corporations for larger donations and sponsorship. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that the arts are important. It is so very necessary to help this organization so that the festivals can continue to grow, and provide better films, and better reasons for people to get outside and mingle in a positive environment.

Having shared the above, there is something of distaste that should be mentioned, as it has happened twice in a row - Cinequest prides (and advertises) itself as being a festival of film appreciation as an art form for those who love films and filmmaking. Why then would Cinequest let in an "artist" (Alejandro Adams) who outright admits that he makes films because he "hates films"? He now has had two films included in the past two years. Both have been included in only one festival (this one), and both have garnered and incredible amount of loathing and bad press. In fact, Alejandro admits to manipulating his cast (and as such, the audience with the final product), of which the lead actress in "Canary" - during a Q&A - stated that she had no idea who she was, and what she was supposed to be doing in the film. That is not art. Maybe in some form of desperation, but it is not something to be celebrated, especially when made by an admitted "film hater." Note to Cinequest: Experiment over. Don't allow Alejandro's films in anymore.


And with that, feel free to peruse the film reviews and check out photos of what we were able to catch during the festival -
FILM REVIEWS
BACK UP SHORTLY
PHOTOS
BACK UP SHORTLY

INTERVIEWS

And read about our adventures during, and in and around the festival (some of it eye-opening) -
The "I'm Going To Make You Famous" story (from the opening night party). If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, here you are. (This should prove an interesting read to those who want to witness different aspects of the festival, including interviews, parties, and fun mishaps. Note to future attendees: If you wanted to become famous, and do something ridiculous, I will make you famous. Watch what you ask for. Read on...)

Appropriate Thank You's -
We must give a big, hearty thank you to some of the sponsors who directly affected the viewing audience (by way of feeding us). This includes Baja Fresh (who offered $1 off for ticket and pass holders), Chipotle's (free burrito, bowl, salad, or tacos, during the run of the show for ticket / pass holders), Peet's Coffee (for the free coffee tickets), and Starbucks (not for any discounts, but for being 20 feet across the walkway). And not to forget the fantastic film viewing arenas of Camera 12 Cinemas, the California Theater, and The Rep, for giving us a place to see it all happen.

A huge Thank You to Kathleen Powell and Halfdan Hussey for starting this whole escapade, and to Robert Phelps for program directing, as well as Mike Rabehl also for program directing and being a great "go to" guy. And a thanks to all the interns, and the volunteers (Jen and Chris especially, for being my sarcastic and humbling counterparts).


THE DAILY EVENTS
Wed. Feb. 25 - Opening night
It was 6 pm as we gathered with the masses to mingle and chat, enjoy the ceremonies, and see the opening film, "Wake." As at any premiere, the red carpet was unrolled for filmmakers and attendees, as actors Danny Masterson ("That 70s Show"), Bijou Phillips ("Almost Famous"), and Marguerite Moreau ("The Uninvited," "Queen Of The Damned") arrived with director Ellie Kanner and the producers of "Wake."

At the start of the ceremonies, Cinequest cofounder Halfdan Hussey began the ceremonies by thanking everyone once again for attending, giving his support to all of those who submitted films as well as those who support filmmaking, and then introduced San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. The Mayor came out to give a few words about the importance of the arts in San Jose, and supporting Cinequest. Then the show began with the feature film. Following that, it was "follow the hoards" over to the party central, held at two distinguished San Jose restaurants - Mezcal, and Billy Berk's (which I later kept mistakenly referring to as "Barry Bond's"). That was a fun affair indeed.

It's time to make someone famous.
At the party, two local girls approached me in a mistaken case. Seeing my camera in hand, they simply assumed that I was a casting director (somehow that made sense to them). Asking who I was with, I answered, "KAOS2000 Magazine." They heard, "Casting Magazine" and continued cooing towards me, letting me know that they indeed were actors, not like anyone else there. "Did you notice that there aren't any other actors here at this party?" asked the main instigator girl. "Really?" I questioned, as Bijou Phillips and Danny Masterson walked by. I pointed at them and said, "There's one. There's another." My commentary seemed to slip by their comprehension skills as they continued to pose for me and laugh.

I informed them once again that I had nothing to do with casting in my publication. They continued by asking me to take a photo of them. I obliged (which they will now regret). They then asked if I would cast them in a movie. By this point, I simply said, "Sure." I asked if she had a business card. "No." A phone number? "No." A MySpace page? "No." Being annoyed by this point, I stated, "Let me make this blunt for you to understand. You two are neither actors, nor professional in any way. It will never happen." Still smiling and laughing (and perhaps just not hearing any snotty comments from me), she goes for the alternate attempt. "Can I have your card then? I promise I will call you." I held my card up to hand it to them, while saying repeatedly, "I'm telling you for a fact that you will never, ever call me. People like you never do. You talk big about dreams, but do nothing about them. You won't do it." She insists, "I absolutely promise." "No, I think you're here to get laid." Suddenly we are both distracted for a few moments. The two girls, still smiling and giggling like Stepford Wives, become sidetracked by something behind them and go towards it. I am still holding my card, as they walk into the distance - "I told you, you will never call." Why do people like this bother? Do casting agents fall for that? Or perhaps girls like this are what keep skanky "agent-type" people attracted to Hollywood.


Thurs. Feb. 26 - 4 pm
It's always the same, we really want to get to Cinequest earlier in the day, to maximize our film viewing potential. Ultimately it just doesn't work out. Some of us have to work in the mornings, while I living the vampiric existence of a writer / photographer / creative genius, tend to be up into the wee hours of the morning. In any case, we did make it for every evening at least (although a few days we mustered in earlier). This day we caught "Finnish Tango," an amusing German film, This was followed by our first viewing of the brilliantly comedic "Capers." This was the second film to feature Danny Masterson in a film (and leading role, the other being "Wake") during Cinequest. "Capers" warranted three viewings by us during the festival. The final event of the evening for us was "Shorts Program 3: Animated World." A decent showing, although we had our handful of personal faves from this one.


Fri. Feb. 27 -
Finally, we all get there during the day, and get to split up to see different films. Today was a full day, and you can check out reviews of: Shorts Program 6: The Hereafter," "Compassionate One," "Silent Cinema: Birth Of A Nation," "Necessities Of Life," and "Samurai Avenger." In between the films, we also mosey over to one of the big Soiree parties, this time held at Vivid Lounge. Reportedly, this party was hosted by Dan Nelson of Golden Leaf Pictures and White Knuckle Entertainment (although one sign misspelled "Wite"). This was a rockin' party indeed, and the Vivid Lounge is a great location. We got to interview Blanchard Ryan during our hour-long stay here.


Sat. Feb. 28 -
Today was a bit tougher to decide on what to do, as Wondercon was happening in San Francisco. What great mind decided to move a big comic book convention - with it's own film festival - from April, to February, to compete against Cinequest. But, we do make it back for "Mommy's At The Hairdresser's" (billed as a comedy of sorts, it wasn't), and "Audie And The Wolf" (bloody and funny, and a complete rip-off of "American Werewolf In London").


Sun. March 1 -
Damn it! Due to staying out too long, and too late on Saturday, we missed most of Sunday's earlier programming. Note to self: Must be more responsible. But we did make it to several repeat films, including that most wonderful "Capers."


Mon. March 2 -
Starting off the day was a moving documentary entitled "Living In Emergency," about Doctors Without Borders and the struggle they have in war-torn and poverty stricken areas while saving lives. Hanging out, we did a couple of chats with filmmakers before seeing America's new British heart-throb, Robert Pattison ("Twilight") in "How To Be..." (which was rather boring overall), followed by "Billy Was A Deaf Kid," which had to be one of the most marketed films in the festival, expertly shared by its makers, a fresh youthful bunch of kids from Salt Lake City.


Tues. March 3 -
This day's main event was Oscar®-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. ("Enemy Mine," "Iron Eagle") appearing in his latest film, "The Least Among You," and giving a Q&A chat onstage, and with the audience. The film was well-done, as a powerful true story of civil rights and overcoming obstacles. The best line of the evening was when Gossett said, "Don't believe the headlines you read. We're OK. Our country is doing good." This represented the ratings-grabbing negative news media always scaring people with bad news. Gossett pointed out that much of recent history were things that he never thought he'd see in his lifetime, and yet they happened - including our first Black president. From his perspective (as with many shared views in the audience), America is on the right track, but it will be bumpy along the way. Inspirational. Following this, more chatting with filmmakers.


Wed. March 4 -
Again a split shift day with everyone off to different events and films. This day's films included "The Bet," "Shorts Program 2: Document The World," "Two Million Stupid Women," and "Fallen Angel."

7 pm -
We ran over to the California Theater in time to catch the special Maverick Award program featuring actor Kevin Pollack. This was a fantastic show, featuring Kevin doing an hour-long plus stand-up routine about his life and the entertainment industry. Amongst the best moments were (obviously) his impersonations of Jack Nicholson, William Shatner, and Alan Arkin, as well as tidbits from his burgeoning career. He did a hilarious trilogy of pranks he had pulled on Alan Arkin ("Kevin, this is Alan. It's not funny anymore. Not cute.") He told of his nerve-wracking auditions, including going to meetings with big people in the industry. ("I was scared. I had a poop in my pants.") And his closing bit about wanting to / having to make out with Naomi Campbell during a film scene ("I think I should really just 'get in there'.", "I'm a professional. If that's what you want, I'll do it."). As in many a case in theaters, there is always that one clueless mother who brings her baby child to an event. As always, the baby will cry or exclaim at random. Kevin subtly dropped hints to the mother ("Kill the baby.") quickly, between sentences, but to no avail. At one point, when the baby cooed, during a moment of no applause, Kevin retorted, "Thank you. The baby's smart. He says, 'Aah, yes.'")

This show was hosted nicely, with a set-up act at one point where the moderator is called off of the stage for "an important phone call," while a personal friend of Kevin's takes the moderator's seat to continue the questions and discussions of Kevin's career. It was all cleverly done, and the humor was non-stop. This was one of the best celeb appearances at Cinequest (topped only by Sir Ian McKellen's doing a rare, impromptu Shakespeare monologue for the show attendees). Kevin is a genius at everything he does - from comedy to drama to just entertaining a crowd.

Following that, we saw the final film of the evening, "Fallen Angel." Afterwards we had a chat with the makers of "Fallen Angel" about the documentary's subject, Larry Norman, and the diametrics of mental illness vs a nasty attitude and ability to lie vs falling away from God. In the end, there were no clear answers.


Thurs. March 5 -
As the event was passing the half-way point, we made an effort to try to get more done. On this day, we saw "Cut Loose," before interview the gang from "Billy Was A Deaf Kid." (They should get an Oscar® just for marketing.) Then a bit of catching up again with "Shorts Program 6."

6 pm: Time to party -
After telling the above tale, it's my turn. I am one who almost never drinks alcohol (nor sodas either, for that matter), which is something to consider when reading the following. By 6 pm e headed to one of the Cinequest Soirees, at A.P. Stumps, which proved (as always) to be a lavishly nice affair. The party was downstairs in the basement (how "elite"). After trying a few glasses of Cass wines, I was convinced that they were indeed something to look forward to later on. But the best part - especially as an artist myself - was trying Absinthe.

There is always a question as to what really qualifies Absinthe (or Absynthe, as it were), due to the reported toxicity of the original drink made famous by such Bourgeois artists as Edgar Allen Poe, Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, or Mary Shelley. The actual ingredient required for authenticity is wormwood, which in this case, was included. Brilliant. Now I myself could see what those (sometimes) tortured, sensitive, hallucinating artists saw. "Saw" is an ironic term, since the original drink could apparently cause blindness when consumed too much. In this case, five glasses of wine later, one nice glass of Absinthe seemed to warm the belly, followed upward to the rest of my body, ending at my tingling, warm noggin. It works. I was at that realm that caused happy feelings, and still able to communicate properly. Good time to stop, leave the party, and find some proper food to soak it all up.

Once again ending up at Baja Fresh, just across from Camera 12, a food break did provide a sobering effect, if even an hour later.

By 9:45 pm, we had made it into the sold-out "Shorts Program 1: Dark Humor After Dark." Missing the first short film offering, we were able to start with the disturbingly hilarious "Dan And The Van." Part of me wants to tell you what made it so (socially improperly) hilarious, but that would ruin the surprise (I will mention it's about pedophiles). I will give kudos to Cinequest to finally breaking their own taboos, by allowing a film with actual hardcore porn scenes (if for a moment) into the festival (how that one slipped by is a mystery). I'm sure, upon reading this article, that rule will change for the future. Just for the record, "Dan And The Van" director John Nijhawan had planned it that way, to be only noticeable on the big screen (so it would slip by censors). During the Q&A session at the end, Nijhawan was equally humorous while giving his take of why he made films at all. His answer involved several profanity-laced commentaries about film school, and film students in general ("making shit films that suck," apparently). But, as Q&A host Chris Garcia pointed out, this by far was the funniest Q&A session ever held. (I just hope no children were present.) Read the reviews to find out why this was the funniest, and one of the most entertaining events of Cinequest.

12 midnight - We ended up at Azucar Latin Bistro & Mohito Bar, one of the "watering holes" as the film elite like to call it. The drinking had already begun, except for those of us driving, who were more content to observe and share a story or two. I will say that it only took about an hour before one filmmaker, making one last attempt at filling his gullet with beer, decided to spill the guts (as it were) on the sidewalk, as well as on the shoes of my fashionably dressed company. Females tend to not appreciate that so much. But her demeanor was cordial and understanding about excitement, festivals, and artists. Cheers, mate. There is nothing so warm and inviting, as a filmmaker throwing up on a film fan. And with that recycled brew and dinner mix, it was definitely time to call it a night, go home, and try to get some rest before the final weekend.

5 am - In my usual vampiric ways, I am just now writing the above section, and hoping to somehow make it down in time for the Johnny Cash biopic at noon, to be followed by a very long day and evening. Let's see how that goes.


Fri. March 6 - 10 am (The most interesting day of the week)
As I am writing this after the fact, it's safe to say that I am soundly sleeping, as are the rest of the KAOS2000 crew. There comes a point where sleep overpowers any requirements to party or have any kind of good time. Nothing feels good after several days of minimal rest. 12 noon comes and goes, and the Johnny Cash bio just wasn't going to work out today.

2 pm -
Today is a day that is important for any fan of both film, and the written word. It's the "World Of The Writer" event, that starts at 9:30 am. In my world, that is an evil hour. I wait until after noon to mosey on downtown, in time to catch the much anticipated chat with Diablo Cody, writer of the Oscar®-winning film, "Juno." Talk about luck. This perky writer/blogger from a small town in Illinois, won an Academy Award with her very first script (and a very funny film at that). Even more unrealistic, but true, is that the script remained virtually unchanged from start to finish. This event was to feature an onstage chat between Diablo, and legendary Lew Hunter. What it became was a bizarre, surreal adventure that bordered between some captivating insights (Cody) and excruciating self-promoting diatribes (Hunter). This is that point at which a writer is torn between trying to be polite and protective of those involved, and being a proper journalist in recording the events as were seen by everyone else. It wasn't pretty. I'll explain -

3 pm: The Diablo Show -
To begin with, Diablo Cody (the former Brook Busey, with no known relation to Gary), is a symbol of hope and luck for all aspiring writers who have ever hoped to "make it" in any way in the film industry. She scored, and scored big on her first try. On top of that, she had already previously penned a book, "Candy Girl: A Year In The Life Of An Unlikely Stripper."

Moderator Lew Hunter is a well-known author, screenwriter, and educator - chairman Emeritus and Professor of Screenwriting at UCLA. He is also recognized as one of the best screenwriting teachers in the U.S. With respect, that did not make him a proper moderator. In fact, on the whole, the entire event became an embarrassment. This was echoed throughout the California Theater during the chat as the audience grumbling, mumbled, and repeated "WTF?". It is a bit sad when someone so credentialed ends up ridiculed while doing what brings him joy, and for the fact that he really seemed to want to be there (which may have been part of the problem). From my understanding from a few people in the audience who knew of his past works, he came off as possibly jealous of being in the presence of someone who had no training, got lucky and won an Oscar®, literally being an antithesis to everything that Lew teaches. It may have been subconscious, but it showed in a variety of ways.

During the hour-plus long chat were a few faux-pas moments. To begin with was his attempt at cuteness by bringing a small dog in a bag onto the stage, while announcing that it was most likely against the rules at the exquisite California Theater. Always a good idea to announce that, not to mention the immediate visual to him being akin to Paris Hilton (who constantly brings her pooches everywhere). I thought that was a "chick thing."

Then came a most inappropriate story ("rambling anecdote," to quote another writer) that he offered up - for no good particular reason - about how he was getting drunk in a hotel ("I was drinking... no, wait, I was DRUNK!") and running around naked outside in the rain. What that had to do with Diablo Cody, one cannot imagine - unless in some subconscious "pervy bar guy" way, it was an attempt to be flirtatious onstage. There was no reason to bring that up.
[To note: To my understanding, Lew does not have any drinking issues, but his comments and antics were interpreted by many attendees, to him possibly being inebriated during the Q&A. That's an unfortunate byproduct of bringing up drunken binge stories onstage, especially when the event is not about you.]

Lew continued to get up and walk around in front of Diablo, while also looking out into the audience from the front of the stage (as Diablo courteously remained seated, but out of view of some). The antsy audience beginning to shout, "Let Diablo talk! Sit down!".

Lew also made a few errors along the way in regards to Diablo's background and works. He incorrectly stated that Diablo's book, "Candy Girl," had moments about a supposed current fiancee. Diablo retorted with, "No! Ex-husband. Do your research, you weirdo." From that point forward, the heckling began.

When Lew asked Diablo "How do you suffer fools?", she gave a mischievous grin, as she looked him up and down, and said, "I must have the patience of a saint."

Although I've given enough example, the true moment of awkwardness came at the end of the chat. The audience immediately jumped up to leave the room, as schoolchildren would after the final test, or for summer break. Program director Robert Phelps came out immediately to save the day. It must be said that Robert did a most gracious job of saving face by announcing, "Since we're all standing, let's give Diablo Cody a standing ovation." Well put indeed. He then quickly announced that she was about to receive her Maverick Spirit Award for her great job and luck. The audience remained and were thankful that the show had finally taken a turn toward what it was supposed to be about - Diablo Cody and her success.

To be honest, much of what I myself could have hoped to learn from a chat with Diablo, wasn't realized and a lot of interesting questions and topics were not discussed in any great detail. It's safe to say there would be a walkout if Lew ever moderates again. For the record, the above commentary could have been kept to a minimum, but it would not have been fair to those who sat through it.

5 or 6pm -
It was time to clear the palate by going to this day's Soiree party at The Vault. Another fine affair filled with food and fun people. Diablo Cody made her appearance as well, to chat with people. There was an odd red-lit room that attendees could sit in, bathed in dark red lights, to eat their food fare. A bit cramped, but it served its purpose. This evening, the beverages were being offered by Barefoot Wines, another good set of grape samplings.

7 pm -
As Keith wandered off towards The Rep, Jenna and I decided to try the "Silent Cinema" program happening at the California Theatre. This evening featured the 1916 American classic, "Intolerance." We got there just after the program had begun. The setting was perfect. A 1920's refurbished theater, resplendent and magnificent, with authentic organ music accompanying a film that had been made in the same era. But, admittedly, the storyline was a bit muddled and although I appreciated the historic value, I wasn't able to maintain interest for too long. The guy behind us, snoring ever more loudly, didn't help the matter any. So off we went to The Rep to see "The Forest," a well-made Indian thriller film in which the serial killer is a leopard. That was followed by the brilliantly made, locally filmed "All About Dad," a clever story about a Vietnamese-American family, struggling with their father's decidedly old-world mentality about how things should be. Regardless of the culture or race, the story is the same, of new rebelling against the old, and change inevitably having to occur.


Sat. March 7 - 2:30 pm -
Three of the four of us KAOS2000 Musketeers meet at The Rep Theatre to hit up the VIP lounge. We never quite get there. As I walk in, I am suddenly asked if I have a guitar, because I "just look like I would play." (See how - correctly - judgmental people can be.) I stated that after finally parking my car, after a 20 minute attempt, I was not inclined to go back to the other side of town. As it turned out, Brad Corrigan, drummer for the indie band Dispatch, was in town promoting his current documentary, "Day Of Light." He wanted to perform - just him on guitar and vocals - outside the theater before the movie. I didn't think much of it at that moment, because I didn't recognize the name, until the mention of the legendary Dispatch show - selling out three nights at New York's Madison Square Gardens, with no marketing publicity, strictly word of mouth. I recalled that tale from a bassist friend of mine, Jacques Bicket-Boulet of the local reggae-ish band Aivar. A phone call to Jacques, telling him that Brad was in fact standing next to me, was retorted with several bouts of "Holy Shit!!" repeatedly. Jacques, being in San Francisco at that moment, turned around immediately to head back and meet his biggest musical idol. Along the way, getting his dad involved to bring the guitar downtown. Then, we got the Inside Cinequest film crew together to document the short, unplanned performance. It went well. Much too short, but definitely enigmatic, as Brad's voice and guitar had a great tone. Whether it helped in packing the film premiere, no one knows, but people did show. "Day Of Light" proved to be a very well photographed, visually stunning one-hour documentary about the "trash dump children" living in Nicaragua. Following the film, Jacques and I both got a chance to interview Brad about his past, the film project, and upcoming plans. Brad was a most gracious and spiritual person, who seemed to want everyone to share in the blessings that life offers.

6:30 - 2 am -
Following the interview, off we went to see the Sean Penn produced and narrated "Witch Hunt," a haunting documentary about justice and social rights gone horribly wrong. It covered the 1980s Bakersfield, CA events in which over 34 parents were unjustly accused of molesting children and Satanic practices, and wrongly incarcerated. Following that, it was mingling time with those who we wouldn't see again for a while, before seeing "Shorts Program 1" once more, for good measure (and a good laugh).


Sun. March 8 - 7 pm -
It was the final curtain call for Cinequest 19. The closing event film screening was a world premiere of Roger Nygard's "The Nature Of Existence." This was a brilliant film documentary that asked the simple question, "Why are we here?", only to find there is no simple answer. Clever and witty, just like the director / narrator. I had a chance to speak with Roger before the showing and have an interview up [click here].

Everyone was chatty and friendly, looking forward to seeing all the filmmakers one last time, and expecting, as always, a fantastic final night's film - and no doubt looking forward to the party that followed the event.

As all the filmmakers left in town lined up onstage to be recognized with accolades, the winners (as chosen up to that time) were announced. Interesting, as practically all the films that won in any category, happened to be films that almost none of us (KAOS2000) got to see. We began to wonder which film festival we had actually attended during the past 12 days. But in the end, it was great to see everyone get their moment. A lot of smiling faces indeed.

One thing to note of difference this year, was the lack of an actual award ceremony, with handed out statues or plaques. As Cinequest President Halfdan Hussey explained, they wanted to maintain an all-around feeling of Maverick performance, as though everyone was a winner. I'm not so sure that sat well with many people. That sort of "everybody feel good" mentality is a relatively new trend that began at public schools who didn't want to alienate students by giving gold stars and such. They wanted to make everyone feel special. That doesn't work. We all try, but not everyone succeeds to the same degrees (and it's also all subjective). I think it would have been better to have had some sort of public recognition for those who did win - so that everyone could join in. Winning contests and such is good for morale because it gives the others something to strive harder for next time. We cannot all be "winners" by default, or else we'd all be President. My personal thought is that it's not healthy in the long run and "everyone wins" is too "feel-good" and New Age-y. Just a thought.

Either way, the ceremonies were relatively short, but very nicely done. Included this year was an artist's contest, with three painters competing for the best representation of "Transformation." (During the after-party, I spoke with the wife of the runner-up, who stated, "The winner got a plaque. Oh yay!" Perhaps they expected large amounts of cash during the strapped economy.)

The party! Due to the Daylight Savings it kind of threw us off due to time changes. Did anyone have a curfew? It didn't matter as we all had an extra hour to go. Woo hoo! The party at E & O Trading Co. was quite lively and packed to the hilt. It was practically impossible to move around in the place - well, at least until the free food ran out. It's amazing how that affects the spacial ratio in a bar/restaurant. When the free, but fabulous, food was gone, so were some of the party-goers. It could be coincidence, since some people do have day jobs and had to get back for Monday morning. But coincidence or not, it was amusing. Everyone danced, chatted, and drank up until closing time. Then it was hugs all the way around, and the promises to see each other again next year. I know we're looking forward to it.

Other Cinequest Film Festival Coverage
Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

All rights reserved © KAOS2000™. No portion contained herein, either text or graphics, may be reproduced anywhere or reposted on any other website for any purpose without the expressed permission of the publisher. All violations shall be punished as the law allows.

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