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A vanguard organization set in the Silicon Valley, Cinequest’s uniqueness and impact result from being ahead of the curve in the powerful integration of creativity and technology. Cinequest fuses the world of the filmed arts with that of Silicon Valley’s innovation to empower youth, artists and innovators to create and connect - driving transformations and a better tomorrow. Cinequest does this through Cinequest Picture The Possibilities and Cinequest Film Festival.




The Best of the Fest part 1 - Student Shorts, Monster Camp and Blood Car.

It is Monday, March 12th, and Cinequest has come to an end. This is a bitter-sweet moment; on the one hand I am already missing the frenetic buzz of running from film to forum and back to film, stopping to chat with filmmakers and attendees along the way and getting another caffeine dose in order to do it all over again. On the other hand, this now frees me up to actually get to the blog entries I have been meaning to assail you with, covering everything from my favorite festival films, to my final thoughts.

Sunday, March 4th turned out to be an exemplary day.

I started the day with the Student Shorts program, a section very dear to me as I had two films on show at this very festival last year. As usual, the program was laced with extraordinary examples of filmmaking, as black and white no budget shorts rubbed shoulders with glossy, well funded efforts. Of particular interest to me were the following:

Michael ChanceMichael ChanceColourbars, an amusingly animated short with a pleasing punch line, directed by Timothy Moore; Forgetting Betty, a deeply moving and poignant portrayal of a grandmother, by directors JamesCar NazzalCar Nazzal Anderson and Robert Postronzy; Gordo, a stunning entry about a Mexican taco maker looking to support his family, by San Francisco Academy of Art director Vince Navarro; Namibia, Brasil, a beautiful and heartfelt film about compassion for others by director Miguel Silviera; The Reason, a powerful, gritty urban cop drama by local De Anza student director Michael Chance; Sadiq, a brutally honest yet hope inspiring short from director Sean Mullin; Tougher Yet, a devastatingly moving relationship drama from German director Felice Goetze and Truth of the Matter, a surreal study of relationships and perspectives from De Anza student director Car Nazzal.

I chose these films as my favorites due to their original content and flair for camera-work, and it will be interesting to see if any of these end up on the Academy shortlist next year!

My day just got better and better from that point on.

Next up was Monster Camp, the second Cinequest entry from Cullen Hoback (Freedom State). I was extremely excited to see this documentary, as I had a personal interest in the subject of 'real life' role-playing. Back in the mid-80's I would regularly spend my weekends in the dank depths of Chislehurst Caves in Kent, playing Dungeons and Fighting in lineFighting in lineDragons for real with my foam rubber sword and floppy boots. This was a natural progression from the old table-top method of playing the game, and no doubt pleased my mother who thought I was at least getting some exercise. I am still amazed at some of the physical feats I achieved when playing the game, the least of which was lassoing a battlement spike and scaling a 20 foot wall to attack a courtyard of 'orcs'. Not only did my ranger raise four levels on that day, but I tapped an inner strength and resourcefulness I never knew existed.

With this in mind, I settled in and watched Cullen's documentary follow the lives of select players in Seattle as they battled for 48 straight hours in a live action RPG called NERO. We followed the trials and tribulations of Shane, the organizer who tried to hold everything together, Dave, the World of Warcraft addict who was to become Shane's arch nemesis and the various heroes and monsters of the games. Not only was Monster Camp hugely entertaining, but Cullen did not exploit his subjects by choosing an easy ridiculing of the activity. Instead he employed a sympathetic lens, and allowed the humor to develop from the players themselves, whose natural characters turned out to be far more interesting than their NERO alter-egos! This documentary is a stunning achievement, and I was delighted to see Cullen win the Maverick Spirit Award for his film.

Go to for more information and future screenings.

How could I top seeing a fantastic film? Go see another one - and I did!

I had been longing to see Blood Car since it saw its description in the program, and I thought it might be an amusingly twisted jaunt. How wrong I was. Blood Car is a hilarious, frenzied, gore drenched, head spinning jaunt and I loved every second of it. Gloriously photographed on the Sony F900, Blood Car took us on a joy ride down the freeway of bad taste, stopping only to pick up the sexiest or strangest of hikers to fuel its insatiable fuel lust.

The leads, Mike Brune, Katie Rawlett and Anna Chlumsky were pitch perfect, and Alex Orr who directed, producedBlood Car cast and crewBlood Car cast and crew and co-wrote the film has become yet another name on my list of filmmakers to watch out for. From the moment I saw the seemingly innocent Chlumsky's obscene doodling, through Brune's desperate attempts to kill a dog with a BB gun, to Rawlett's acidic delivery of the best lines in the movie (mainly about tacos and haikus), I was hooked. Not content with recommending Blood Car to everyone I met; I went to see it again (to balance out the number of folks going to see Outsourced for a second time). It just got funnier. Again, I was delighted to see Alex win the New Visons Award at the festival!

Go to to check out the madness from Fake Wood Wallpaper productions.

It's days like this that make Cinequest great.

By God, I miss it.

by Neil Baker

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About Cinequest

Colon Antonea

CINEQUEST is a vanguard organization that fuses creativity with technological innovation to empower, improve, and transform the lives of people and communities.

CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL: February 28 - March 12, 2017

United States

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