San Jose's Cinequest Film Fest boasts 100 films from female directors

The Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival kicked off Tuesday night with a red carpet at the California Theater in downtown San Jose.

Halfdan Hussey, who co-founded the Silicon Valley event 29 years ago, says now it's where "tech meets art."

"This year it's a lot about virtual reality, augmented reality, volumetric reality. New experiences for people in terms of the way they make work and access that experience," said Hussey.

Organizers say the festival will screen 256 films and 100 of those movies were directed by women.

"We're already seeing the change. In my 22 years since I started acting, I see a lot more young women in various fields...sound recorders, music composers...things that were not there10 years ago," said Nandita Das, who directed the film Manto.

Halfdan said the old "boys club" of filmmaking and distribution thankfully has changed.

"It's very exciting for us programming 100 films from women because say 10 years ago, we might have had 25 to 50 films made by women to choose from. Now look at this explosion. The doors have opened," said Hussey.

A film by a San Jose State professor is one of the films being screened.

American Muscle is a 22-minute action drama about a female street-racer written and directed by San Jose State film instructor Nick Martinez.

Martinez said 5,000 actresses auditioned for the lead role.

45 current and former San Jose State students worked on the project that took more than two years to make and was filmed around the Bay Area.

"Alameda Naval Air Base-- same place they filmed Myth Busters all the time. And then also in downtown San Jose. So it really has a roots all over the Bay Area," said Martinez.

The Cinequest Film Festival runs through St. Patrick's Day.