Cinequest film festival is back and adding a new Bay Area venue

Cinequest film festival is back and adding a new Bay Area venue

Part of the fun of Cinequest, Silicon Valley’s film festival, always has been the party scene where fans mingle with each other — and often with filmmakers and performers — to talk about what they’ve seen at the festival. After two years of virtual festivals and a cautious return to in-person last year, Cinequest co-founder and Festival Director Halfdan Hussey is excited to bring people back together.

“It’s going to be fun and different,” Hussey said, noting that people have just been drained by the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest here at home and wars overseas. “Last year, people weren’t ready to come out as much. But it doesn’t look like that now. It’s going to be fun to get people together.”

This year’s festival opens Aug. 15 with Jennifer Esposito’s debut directorial film, “Fresh Kills” at the California Theatre. And that’ll be followed by the return of the opening night party in the courtyard of City View Plaza, the vacant office park on Park Avenue that’s scheduled for a massive makeover by Jay Paul. Another party is planned for Aug. 19 after the world premiere of “Breakwater,” starring Dermot Mulroney (who, at this point, is slated to be at the festival after getting clearance from SAG-AFTRA).

After more than a week with films in San Jose at the California and the Hammer Theatre Center, Cinequest will move to a new venue at the ShowPlace ICON theater in Mountain View to finish out the festival’s last seven days. A second opening night movie, “Sometimes I Think About Dying” with Daisy Ridley,” will be screened there Aug. 24, and Cinequest will take over three of the luxury theater’s auditoriums and its upstairs lounge through Aug. 30.

The Mountain View venue will make it easier for Peninsula audiences to come to a movie without fighting as much rush hour traffic into downtown San Jose, but Hussey said another key reason is that there simply aren’t enough movie screens in downtown San Jose for Cinequest to use since the Camera 12 closed in 2016. The festival previously has shown movies in Redwood City and Campbell because of that, he said.

“It’ll be an entirely different vibe than in San Jose,” Hussey said, with audiences coming out of different movies into the same space instead of being spread out between venues. “They’ll both be great, but this will be a completely different flavor.”

For tickets and schedule information, go to www.cinequest.org.

Dr. Amelia Hausauer, a dermatologist with Aesthetx in Campbell, talks about the impact the arts had on her life as Starting Arts Executive Director Ann Watts looks on. Hausauer, a Starting Arts board member, arranged for the youth arts education program to bring singers to perform for young, hospital bound patients at the Children’s Healthcare Organization of Northern California on Aug. 9, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group) 

CARING PERFORMANCE: When Dr. Amelia Hausauer, a dermatologist with Aesthetx in Campbell, was looking for a way to bring her professional and artistic lives together, the former ballet dancer found it by joining the board of Starting Arts, the youth arts education nonprofit.

This week, she organized a special Starting Arts performance for several hospital-bound children with severe illnesses at the Children’s Healthcare Organization of Northern California on Bascom Avenue, right next to her clinic. Wednesday, she joined Starting Arts Executive Director Ann Watts and music director Diane Torres-Koss to introduce an outdoor performance by three Starting Arts performers: Samantha George, Quinn Dembecki and Kate Eng.

The trio sang songs that would be familiar to the young patients, who cheered and clapped when they could. Kathleen Tuckness, the activities director for Children’s Healthcare Organization, said the severity of the kids’ physical issues means that field trips are challenging, so having a performance come to them was a treat.

PARK PEOPLE: The San Jose Parks Foundation Honors, held Thursday night at Emma Prusch Farm Park, paid tribute to several people who have been instrumental in making the city’s parks thrive — though not in the way you might think. The honorees were the team at Veggielution, which uses Emma Prusch as its home base for a community farm and provides people resources to tackle food insecurity; Ed Solis, who just retired from the city of San Jose after 24 years and the driving force behind Viva CalleSJ, the open streets initiative; and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Shiloh Ballard, who is stepping down on Aug. 24 but was a proponent for residents to explore parks and trails by bike.

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By the way, mark your calendar for the next Viva Calle event, “Calle to Matsuri,” on Sept. 10. Six miles of streets will be closed to vehicle traffic and open to skaters, strollers, cyclists and runners. The route will connect Japantown, Kelley Park and Tamien Park. Get more information at www.vivacallesj.org.

HOLIDAY HOT RODS: A few people told me they couldn’t believe they missed Christmas in July, the annual fundraiser for San Jose’s Christmas in the Park. Don’t worry; they didn’t and you haven’t, either. The event is taking place Aug. 19 and since it’s not in July, it’s got a new, if not original, name — Hot August Nights — and a new theme with dozens of classic cars expected to line the streets of History Park in San Jose. And you’ve got to figure there’ll be a certain sleigh out there, too, right?

The evening includes food trucks, lawn games and music by the Hitmen, and don’t forget that this event provides a lot of the funding to run the nonprofit holiday display that families love to visit every year. So there’s a good way to get on you-know-who’s “nice” list this year. Tickets are available for $75 at www.christmasinthepark.com.