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The Cinequest Film Festival is the first major annual independent film festival held after the Academy Awards. Located in San Jose, California, Cinequest has grown to be one of the largest and most influential film festivals featuring new film makers.
Cinequest, a nonprofit 501(c)3 institute, produces the Cinequest Film Festival, Cinequest Distribution Label, and Cinequest Mentoring & Education Programs. Cinequest serves Maverick film artists, movie lovers and students.
Founded by Silicon Valley innovators, business leaders and filmmakers, Cinequest’s history is of technology and discovery. Cinequest paves the revolution of digital technology and film which is now a standard in film industry today.
1990: Founded by filmmakers Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell, Cinequest began with a rocky start as guest of honor Jon Jost (All the Vermeers in New York) failed to show up to the event to get his Maverick Spirit Award. In all, over 3,000 moviegoers paid to see 60 films in the four-day event held in the lone Camera 3 Theatre in San Jose. Guest of honor Jon Jost .
1992: After the popular success of Jurassic Park and Michael Jackson's Black or White music video, Cinequest tied into its Silicon Valley roots and featured the technology of using computers in a process called, "morphing" with an emphasis on the film , Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The Maverick Spirit Award is presented to Lena Stolze.
1995: No festival as the event moves from November to February.
1996: Cinequest brings on Programming Director Michael Rabehl, who begins reshaping the structure of the film program as well as guests—and also helps expand Cinequest to a full week event. The festival also is moved from November to February. The newly built UA Pavilion Theatres in downtown San Jose host some screenings. The Maverick Spirit Award is given to Luis Valdez.
1997: Again the Silicon Valley location of the festival is displayed as it becomes the first to use streaming media technology to webcast the awards ceremony live over the Internet. The Maverick Spirit Award is presented to Jennifer Jason Leigh.
1998: Fully embracing technology, Cinequest adds the "DXD" (Digital by Digital) section of the competition, honoring artistic use of technology in film. Maverick Spirit Awards are given to Kevin Spacey, Elmer Bernstein, Jackie Chan, Walter Murch, John Schlesinger and Barry Sonnenfeld.
1999: After the popularity of the previous year's technology section Cinequest expands the DXD section to include panels on digital cinematography, including a sneak preview of the making of the film, Antz. Maverick Spirit Awards go to Gabriel Byrne and Rod Steiger.
2000: Cinequest stretched to an 11-day event with a 135 films scattered at three locations throughout San Jose. Maverick Spirit Awards go to Robert M. Young, Dario Argento, Alec Baldwin, Wes Craven and Peter Fonda.
2001: Cinequest is named one of the 10 best film festivals by Chris Gore. The Maverick Spirit Award is given to Mia Trachinger for her first feature Bunny. Spike Lee, Ron Shelton and Richard Leacock, and Billy Bob Thornton failed to appear. Nandita Das, Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf and Doug E. Doug were also notable attendees.
2002: Attendance sets a record at 50,000. The San Jose Repertory Theatre is used for the first time to show Cinequest films. Maverick Spirit Awards go to Lalo Schifrin, David Strathairn, Lili Taylor, Ian McKellen, while other notable attendees included Jean-Marc Barr. The Opening Night film was The Search for John Gissing and the closing night film was 13 Moons.
2003: Maverick Spirit Awards are presented to Ralph Bakshi, Stephen Frears, Lupe Ontiveros, William H. Macy, Val Kilmer, James Woods. The opening night film was The Movie Hero starring Jeremy Sisto and the closing night film was 100 Mile Rule starring Michael McKean and Maria Bello.
2004: Attendance is an estimated 54,000 with 168 films. The Maverick Spirit Award is presented to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kurt Miller. The opening night film was the Finnish Soccer film United while the closing night film was The Conscientious Objector, a documentary about Desmond T. Doss
2005: The California Theater begins showing films and hosting events including silent films and the opening (Brazil's Manual for Love Stories) and closing night films (My Jealous Barber). The festival played at four venues within walking distance of each other, showing the scheduled 180 films. Maverick Spirit Awards were scheduled to be presented to Blanchard Ryan, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, Ben Kingsley, and Jon Polito PDF.
2006: Cinequest has a Break Out year with a record attendance of 67,000. The festival showcases 191 films with over 40 features having their World, North American and US premieres. Maverick Spirit Award goes to Edward James Olmos. Cinequest announces in November its newest initiative to launch its own distribution label with 35 Maverick films under the first slate. The Cinequest Distribution Label presents the highest quality Maverick films, including audience and jury award winners from the top festivals, in DVD and world leading Internet. Cinequest also launches its pilot Camp Cinequest—a 5-day summer film camp for 7th-8th graders to learn and have hands-on experience in the multifaceted filmmaking process.
2007: The festival announces record submissions competing for slots in the 17th edition of the Cinequest program. In the 12 day festival 160 films showcased with over 100 first-time, emerging film artists represented. Over 40 features and 40 shorts have their World, North American and U.S. premieres. Attendance rises to over 70,000. The festival showcases the most dynamic list of Maverick Spirit Award guests include Stewart Copeland of the Police, Minnie Driver, Christine Vachon, J.J. Abrams, and Christopher McQuarrie. The Cinequest Distribution Label currently expands its collection of independent and international films to 47 titles.
2008: Centering on this years theme, Transform - Mind, Body and Soul, Cinequest hosted 605 artists and innovators, and a record 81,000 attendees. Maverick Spirit Award winners during this years festival included Kevin Pollak, Louis Gossett Jr. and Diablo Cody.
Independent films that premiered at Cinequest that went on to further distribution by a major movie studio:
Several short films shown at Cinequest have received nominations for Academy Awards. In recent years, these have included
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