Updates on City of San José Services and/or Operations . (English | Español | Tiếng Việt | 中文)

City of San Jose Blog

View the latest stories from the City of San José

Cinequest 2020 celebrates 20th anniversary in San Jose

A Guest Blogpost by Rick Jensen, Communications Director, San Jose Downtown Association

Post Date:02/28/2020 5:05 PM

"Move over Cannes! Of the more than 4,000 film festivals around the globe, more than half take place on U.S. soil, and many rank among the best of the best. Our panel of film experts, movie buffs and festival gurus were tasked with narrowing down the field to the best 20 film festivals in the nation before we turned it over to USA TODAY and 10 Best readers to choose their favorites. After four weeks of voting, we have a winner. Cinequest Voted Best Film Festival!"
 — USA Today

To everyone’s delight, Cinequest Film Festival's 20th anniversary festival runs from March 3, through March 20, appropriately titled “Elation.”  To may downtowners, Cinequest is the best of a year-round slate of festivals.

Why so popular with locals?

Cinequest expects more than 110,000 attendees. Of 321 films screened during the festival,  mostly at three downtown theaters – 3Below, California Theatre and Hammer Theatre Center – 122 will have women directors.  Fifty-two countries will be represented. The festival includes Maverick Awards presentations to Ruth Weiss, Hong Chau and Jesse Eisenberg, innovations and creativity forums in fashion, writing, comedy, dance, music and art.  Virtual reality and augmented reality days are March 5-8 at California Theatre and KALEID Gallery. 

Plenty of local businesses are partners in the event. Nightly soirees and socials before and after screenings are held at a dozen restaurants and night spots.

The economic impact on downtown – that is, the spending by out-of-towners on parking, meals, overnight stays and shopping totals in the millions of dollars.

The energy on the streets can be felt during the entire run of the festival.  Maybe it’s more electric because there’s something special about passing by a star on the street or overhearing a discussion among entertainment industry at a lounge.

Have a look at a short film describing the origins of Cinequest 

 CQ 2020_560x250_final

10 films to consider

The Burnt Orange Heresy  7:15 p.m. March 5, California Theatre – Billed as “A spiky romance and elegant neo-noir journey into an exhilarating landscape where the art world and the underworld collide,” makes me wonder if that isn’t just a little too much hype.  But these days, any chance you get to see a Beatle or a Stone doing something different and new, you gotta take it.  Mick Jagger plays an art dealer trying to get someone to steal art for him.

Hope Gap  7:15 March 4, California Theater – Annette Bening and Bill Nighy star as a couple with 30 years of marriage behind them.  She’s ready to celebrate, but he has different plans.

The Longest Wave 7 p.m. March 6, California Theatre – An inspirational film about Robby Naish, a surfing legend with loads of competitive victories who was motivated to examine what else could be done with that board.  Standup paddle boarding. Wind surfing. Kite boarding. Foil surfing.  Thank Robby Maish.

The Mimic 4:30 p.m. March 7, California Theatre – A mash of comedy ensues as our narrator thinks he’s being stalked. Turns out, the narrator is attracted to his so-called stalker’s wife. My, how the tables have turned!  Along the way, meet some weird characters played by Marilu Henner, Gina Gershon, Jessica Walter, E Emmet Walsh and Didi Conn, among others.

Bleeding Audio 7 p.m. March 7, Hammer Theatre – The world premiere of a film about how the music industry has changed since the advent of the digital revolution.  The story follows the rollercoaster ride of one average band, with interviews of some of the music industry’s biggest names.

3-day Weekend 2 p.m. March 9, Hammer Theatre Center – We all love camping and a good mystery-thriller.  And guess what?  No cell-phone reception!  Trouble definitely lurks ahead. 

Nail In The Coffin: The Fall & Rise Of Vampiro 7:15 March 10, California Theatre – A documentary about a wrestling legend.  The lives and behind-the-scenes looks at these people are always fascinating.

The Roads Not Taken 7:30 p.m. March 10, Hammer Theatre – Most of us struggle with what shoulda, coulda, woulda been if we had just taken a different path in our lives.  A father-daughter struggle through separate conundrums. Cast includes Elle Fanning, Salma Hayek, Laura Linney and Javer Bardem Directed by Sally Potter (Orlando).

Military Wives 7 p.m. March 12, Hammer Theatre – Kristin Scott stars, and Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) directs this feel-good story of military wives starting a choir while their husbands serve in Afghanistan.

Silent Cinema:  The Mark of Zorro preceded by One Week 7 p.m. March 13, California Theatre – Douglas Fairbanks stars in one of the best silent movies ever made, and 100 years old this year.  Buster Keaton stars in a classic short of a do-it-yourself home-builder.  Dennis James accompanies both films on the mighty Wurlitzer organ.

For this year’s schedule, check


Return to full list >>