Plans for the annual Cinequest film festival underway

In a little more than six weeks, San Jose will once again welcome Silicon Valley’s annual film and arts festival known as “Cinequest.”

“We live in a rich, unique, place. And we celebrate that at Cinequest,” said Kathleen Powell, the co-founder and president.

At a pre-festival launch party Wednesday morning inside a Santa Clara hotel, organizers explained there will be 321 films and virtual reality experiences spread over the 13-day event that takes place in San Jose and Redwood City. The overall theme is “Elation,” according to co-founder and CEO Halfdan Hussey.

“It’s just so exciting, people get together to celebrate each other, to celebrate (and) discover art and technology, and creative work. And then to connect with each other,” he said.

2020 marks the 30th year for the late Winter South Bay staple. Initially, Cinequest was just a couple of days. Powell says naysayers and critics predicted a film festival in the heart of tech country couldn’t last. That skepticism produced a burning desire to succeed in both co-founders.

“That drove us harder; that push-back on, ‘Oh, it’s been tried before. It’s not going to work.’  We’re both very, very, driven people,” said Powell.

The film festival now spans nearly two weeks.

Organizers say opening and closing nights this year feature two films designed to tap into the audience’s emotions.

“I want people to walk away knowing they were part of something that, you don’t get to do every day,” said Cinequest Programing Director Michael Rabehl.

The 30th installment of ‘cinequest’ begins March 3 and runs through March 15 on seven screens in four theatres in San Jose and in Mountain View.

Additionally, there will be two Maverick Spirit Awards, presented for compelling visionary and creative forces. This year’s recipients  are actress/director Hung Cho and poet Ruth Weiss.