San Jose gearing up for Cinequest Film & VR Festival

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The countdown is on to next month's Cinequest film festival in San Jose -- a celebration of movies, and also the newest technologies used to make them.

Wednesday, organizers of the festival gave reporters a sneak peek at what's in store, unveiling an animated trailer, this year's official poster and some details about the program for the two-week festival.

In the lobby of the Cinequest office on South 1st Street, organizers began adorning racks that will hold festival information booklets with this year's new psychedelic, zebra-striped logo.

"If you look closely there's an eye. And that eye represents vision," said Cinequest CEO and co-founder Halfdan Hussey, adding it's both the vision of filmmakers and the innovators of Silicon Valley that Cinequest celebrates.

"Film, more than any other creative media, relies on technology," he said. "Initially, 35-millimeter film, then digital technologies totally revolutionized that."

Last year, virtual reality became an official part of Cinequest -- the same film festival where digital cameras and online streaming were once shown off to a skeptical industry.

"Nobody thought it would work, they said maybe short films people will watch through the internet. Now look at it," Hussey said.

After renaming the event the Cinequest Film and VR Festival, Hussey said the next challenge was putting the individual VR experience into a group setting.

"You go into rooms and you have the opportunity to watch a premiere VR cinema work or other type of experience or game, and then we provide ways to you to connect with people -- lounges," he said.

Cinequest has grown dramatically since its founding in 1990, from a single theater to a multi-city event with 100,000 people expected to attend. But long-time participants say the one thing that hasn't changed is the spirit of innovation.

"They're so willing to engage with new thoughts and new ideas," said Kimy Martinez, a filmmaker who's screening her new mockumentary "Bill Rules" at the festival.

She said the short film about your "friendly neighborhood drug dealer" was entirely improvised: there was no script.

"It was kind of a risk, because we didn't know what was going to happen," she said.

But risk-taking is what Cinequest is all about. They even have awards for it, called the Maverick Spirit Awards.

"Do something that's innovative, original, cool, makes an impact," Hussey said.

While much of the technology comes from here in Silicon Valley, the films -- including 74 premieres -- will come from all over the world.

"Traveling the world in 14 days -- I think that's pretty special," Martinez said.
Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.