A group of men sit on dark-let stage at San Jose Repertory Theatre for Cinequest's Rough Cut Forum. Photo by Dillon Adams

Cinequest Wraps Up Its 22nd Year

A group of men sit on dark-let stage at San Jose Repertory Theatre for Cinequest's Rough Cut Forum. Photo by Dillon Adams

Panelists discuss Spartan Film Studios’ “Always Learning” as part of Cinequest’s Rough Cut Forum at The Rep. (Dillon Adams image)

By Sarah Kyo, Public Affairs Assistant

Cinequest attendees had the opportunity to catch Spartan talent at downtown San Jose’s world-renowned film festival, including the rough cut of Spartan Film Studios’ “Always Learning” at San Jose Repertory Theatre and the shorts “Elder Anderson” and “Bloom” in the student competition at Camera 12.

For “Cheap Fun” director Zack Sutherland, five years of hard work paid off: The historic California Theatre hosted all three screenings of his feature-length comedy about a group of college friends’ escapades during a pivotal night.

“It’s kind of the theater to play your film in at this festival, and I wasn’t expecting it,” said Sutherland, ’10, Radio-Television-Film and Minor in Theater Arts. “While I was thrilled, the enormous, beautiful theater never looked more intimidating with well over 800 seats.”

This theater was also the site of Cinequest’s Opening Night and Closing Night.

“Opening Night especially will stick in my mind because we got to do so many interviews and get so much attention from Cinequest and the press,” Sutherland said. “It was the first time a reporter had ever wanted to talk to me.”

Sutherland plans to create a website for “Cheap Fun,” a Spartan Film Studios production, and is looking for a distributor to release his film to audiences. A potential screening at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont is being planned. The date is to be determined.

Encore Day

Cinequest finished on March 11 with Encore Day, offering extra screenings for films that won festival awards or were audience favorites.

One of the encores was “Worth the Weight,” a romantic comedy produced by Kristina Denton, ’07 Kinesiology. The film focuses on a 413-pound, former college football player named Sam who begins going to gym and develops a relationship with his personal trainer Cassie.

“This honor means the world to me,” Denton said. “To have our film be so well-received and brought back to play again for more to experience — it’s a dream come true. To have worked so hard on something, for so long and have people get that much joy on a simple, superficial level and also on a deeper more emotional level, makes me feel like mission accomplished.”

One of her most memorable moments was the night of the film’s world premiere when she and about 70 cast and crew members, family members and close friends walked to San Jose Repertory Theatre together.

“I’ll never forget rounding the corner of the theater and seeing the line that formed outside before the film started,” Denton said. “It was down the block! I couldn’t believe it!”

Fostering Young Filmmakers

The image of two young, aviator-attired boys gliding on a skateboard adorned Cinequest 22 posters, guides and passes. It was an appropriate illustration for this year’s festival, which shone a special spotlight on youth filmmaking, thanks to initiatives such as Picture the Possibilities and Adobe Youth Voices.

At SJSU, Cinequest director and co-founder Halfdan Hussey has been working with college students through his RTVF course, The Business of Film.

“The business side of the film arts is rarely taught and it’s critical to making films and reaching audiences,” Hussey said.  “And I like to teach the process of creating any kind of business. I’ve had a unique experience in that I know both the artistic and the business sides to producing and to distribution, festivals and sales.”

Students experienced the behind-the-scenes operations of a film festival through volunteering at Cinequest.

“I got into creating a film festival because of the wonderful treatment I received at festivals as a 23-year-old filmmaker,” Hussey said. “It’s great to understand all sides of the film and creative processes, and volunteerism and internships are great real life experiences, not to mention there’s beauty and power in giving.”