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Cinequest 20
Feb. 23 - March 7, 2010 - San Jose, CA

Cinequest Film Festival opened its 20th anniversary with a bang on Tuesday, February 23, to a thrilled kick-off celebration featuring opening film, “The Good Heart” to an enthusiastic audience. The borderline quirky comedy/drama was a good start to the show, as it set the pace for other films to come, in the sense of - as the 70s band Hawkwind would say - “quirk, strangeness, and charm.”

Granted, to some, there may have been a split favoritism, as Cinequest opened during the final week of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, with the U.S. leading the medal count. But that didn’t stop the outpouring of film lovers (who also probably all had their TiVo’s and DVR’s set at home). And let’s not forget “American Idol,” or rather, yes, let’s just forget that for now. Quality films were what everyone was after.

Cinequest was off and running, with the party continuing at E&O Trading Co., a great San Jose restaurant. Cinequest members, filmmakers, and film fans all got to mingle and make their plans and predictions of popularity for the upcoming celluloid celebration over the next 12 days.

Parking was a contention as there was confusion over validation. Everyone seemed to have a different story while it became apparent that it most likely was just a ploy to make more money for the city (of course) vs attendees who knew the game better and attempted to find the best solution for free parking. Ultimately, in any of the city lots, everyone is validated up to 3.5 hours, with the ability to get an extra validation pass to those attending more than one film. And at worst, those planning to attend multiple films in one day could just go back and move their car around the block every 3.5 hours for renewed validation.

Our own personal starting experience was - as usual - involving some funny comments or actions. As I had to get back to the theater late for “The Good Heart,” I was informed that it was sold out and I couldn’t enter. I mentioned that indeed I had a seat saved towards the front. At that point, a suggestion was made to me to “call your friend on the cell phone to come and get you.” Really? During the film? Cell phone? So much for the “Silence is golden” as you turn off your phone rule. It was just an amusingly inappropriate suggestion at that moment.

“The Good Heart” was a hilariously strange film concerning a crotchety old bar owner, Jacques - played remarkably by veteran actor Brian Cox - who meets a naive young homeless man, Lucas, and takes him under his wing as his assistant in the bar. Jacques and Lucas develop an odd master/student friendship, as the rules of how to properly tend bar are taught to the new arrival. Into the fray comes April - sweet, charming, and equally aloof as Lucas - who causes a rift between the new men. April is a flight attendant, who is now stuck in New York upon quitting after her first job assignment on a Transatlantic flight, as she has discovered a terrifying fear of flying. The story goes from there, working cleverly upon character development of the threesome, along with the other bar patrons, along with a dog, a duck, and a player-piano which cleverly provides much of the film’s soundtrack. “The Good Heart” is an excellent American introduction to director Dagur Kári’s style.

Following the opening night, we were treated to quite a few films - some arguably better than others in substance and style. Of course, keeping in mind personal preferences and tastes. For a full list of reviews - go to: Cinequest 2010 Film Reviews

Cinequest is also hoping to break last year's record attendance of 80,000 viewers. It looks promising as almost all the films have been either sold out, or close to it. It's a promising year for movies.

One thing to note was that the immensely popular Shorts film collections were moved out of the Camera 12, into the much smaller Camera 3 theaters, which made no sense based on the amount of attendees that usually frequent these screenings. As it was, with the amount of short films shown during each section, the Camera 3 theater really could only accommodate the filmmakers, their families and friends, and perhaps about another 20 - 30 regular audience members. Granted, that is an exaggeration, but it certainly felt that way as people were turned back from the sold-out screenings. Something to consider for next year.

As we are now in the middle of the festival, we do have a list of suggested viewing HERE.

And with that, off we go to traverse the Celluloid Universe.

Written by Philip Anderson

And with that, feel free to peruse the film reviews and check out photos of what we were able to catch during the festival -
Up As They Come
Up As They Come

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.

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