Cinequest Film Festival
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Cinequest Film Festival
Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival
LocationSan Jose and Redwood City, California United States of America

The Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival is an annual independent film festival held each March in San Jose, California and Redwood City, California. The international festival combines the cinematic arts with Silicon Valley's innovation. It is produced by Cinequest, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is also responsible for Picture The Possibilities and the distribution label Cinequest Mavericks Studio LLC. Cinequest awards the annual Maverick Spirit Awards. In addition to over 130 world or U.S. premieres from over 30 countries, the festival hosts writer's events including screenwriting competitions, a shorts program, technology and artistic forums and workshops, student programs, and a silent film accompanied on the theatre organ. Founded in 1990 as the Cinequest Film Festival, the festival was rebranded in 2017 as the Cinequest Film & VR Festival and expanded beyond downtown San Jose to Redwood City. It took its present name in 2019.


Filmmakers Halfdan Hussey and Kathleen Powell founded Cinequest in 1990. That year the festival showed 60 films in a single theater, the Camera 3 Cinemas in San Jose; 3,000 people attended. By 2013 there were 100,000 attendees.[1] In 2014 the festival showed 84 world premieres, by film makers in 43 countries, including one filmed using an iPhone.[2]

The festival expanded to ten days in 2000,[3] Cinequest Online was launched in 2004[4] and Cinequest Mavericks Studio in 2010.[5] and in 2017 changed its name to the Cinequest Film & VR Festival, to reflect the major role of Silicon Valley in developing virtual reality.[6] In 2019, the festival was rebranded as Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival and occurred March 5 - 17, 2019.[7] That year it held events at the California Theatre, Hammer Theatre Center, Camera 3 Cinemas, Redwood City Century Downtown 20, and Fairmont Hotel.[8][9][10]

In 2019, the festival was again renamed to the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival in recognition of the many creative experiences presented each year including film, virtual and augmented realities, comedy, television, fashion, art and design, dance, and more.[11] The 30th-anniversary 2020 festival, scheduled for March 3 - 15, 2020 in San Jose and Redwood City, has Elation as its theme;[12][13] the second week was postponed to August because of the COVID-19 outbreak.[14]

Cinequest Film Festival has gained a reputation as a discovery event: Chris Gore's Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide recommends it as showing "the future of film".[1]USA Today readers voted Cinequest as the best Film Festival.[15]


Cinequest offers several awards during the festival season. The Maverick Spirit Awards, the Maverick Innovator Awards, and the Media Legacy Awards highlight notable individuals in film and technology. The Maverick Individual awards are given to films at the conclusion of the festival via jury and audience voting.

Maverick Spirit Awards

The Maverick Spirit Award is given to influential individuals who embody the independent and innovative mindset. It is the most prestigious award given at the Cinequest Film Festival. Over the past 27 years, Cinequest has honored the following artists:

Maverick Innovator Awards

The Media Innovator Award honors technologists whose thoughts, methods and innovations have significantly advanced their industries, their careers, and the world.[22] Cinequest has honored the following people:

Year Honoree
2014 Marty Cooper
Matthew Modine

Media Legacy Awards

The Media Legacy Award, inaugurated in 2014, honors film journalists, "the champions who provide audiences and, thus, life blood for artists and films".[23] Cinequest has honored the following people:

Film Awards

Several awards are given on the closing night of the festival to individual films selected either by a panel of judges or by audience surveys and votes. The most noteworthy awards are:

  • Top Film - Awarded to the best film in any category
  • Best Documentary Feature
  • Best First Feature - Awarded for a director's first feature-length film
  • Best Short Narrative Film
  • Audience Favorite Narrative - Awarded to the most popular narrative film based on audience surveys and screening attendance
  • Audience Favorite Documentary - Awarded to the most popular documentary film based om audience surveys and screening attendance

Listed below are all of Cinequest's awards:

Maverick Film Competition

  • Maverick Spirit Award (Feature Film)
  • Best First Feature
  • Best Documentary Feature
  • Best Short Narrative
  • Best Short Animation
  • Best Short Documentary
  • Best Student Short

New Visions Program

  • New Visions Award (Feature Film)

Global Landscapes

  • Global Vision Award (Feature Film)

Screenplay Competition

  • Screenplay Award (1st, 2nd, and 3rd places recognized)

Audience Award

  • Audience Award Narrative Feature
  • Audience Award Documentary Feature
  • Audience Award Short Film

Also awarded at Cinequest:

Kaiser Permanente Thrive Award

Kaiser Permanente Thrive Award is given to the most inspiring and life affirming film.

Virtual and Augmented Reality Awards[26]

  • Best Immersive
  • Best VR Film
  • Best AR Experience
  • Best Game
  • Best Mixed or Volumetric Reality

Notable debuts

Independent films that premiered at Cinequest and went on to further distribution by a major movie studio:[27]

Oscar nominees

Cinequest is a qualifying festival, with the Best Narrative Short and Best Animated Short both being eligible for an Academy Award.[28] Short films shown at Cinequest that have received nominations for Academy Awards include:

Films shown at Cinequest that have received nominations for Academy Awards include:


  1. ^ a b Sebade, Brett; Burt, Kyle (February 28, 2014). "Festival Spotlight Friday: Onwards and Upwards with Cinequest 2014". MovieMaker.
  2. ^ Dawn, Randee (March 1, 2014). "Cinequest Fest Blends High Tech With Cinematic Arts". Variety.
  3. ^ Harvey, Dennis (February 17, 2000). "Cinequest expands". Variety.
  4. ^ Harvey, Dennis (March 10, 2004) [March 9, 2004]. "San Jose fest to fete Arnold". Variety.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (September 10, 2010). "Fest-distrib Cinequest bows a prod'n shingle". Variety.
  6. ^ Veronin, Nick; Edalatpour, Jeffrey (February 22, 2017). "Being There: With new focus on VR, Cinequest aims to spark imagination and transport viewers". Metro Silicon Valley. pp. 10-11.
  7. ^ "Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival returns this month". 7x7 Bay Area. 2019-03-01. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Our Vision". Cinequest.
  9. ^ "Cinequest: We pick the top films at San Jose's famed fest".
  10. ^ "2017 Cinequest Festival Guide" (PDF).
  11. ^ Lewis, David (March 18, 2019) [March 4, 2019]. "An immersive guide to the Cinequest film fest". Datebook | San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved .
  12. ^ "Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival 2020 | Cinequest". Retrieved .
  13. ^ von Busack, Richard (March 4, 2020). "Cinequest: The 30-Year 'Quest". Metro Silicon Valley. pp. 10-12.
  14. ^ Pizarro, Sal (March 8, 2020). "Cinequest film fest delayed over coronavirus concerns". San Jose Mercury News. pp. B1, B7.
  15. ^ "10Best Readers' Choice: Best Film Festival winners". USA TODAY.
  16. ^ "Bill Nighy gets Cinequest Film Festival's top honor, the Maverick Award". March 7, 2019. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "Fantastic finish for Cinequest with Elle Fanning, 'Don Quixote'". The Mercury News. 2019-03-19. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Cinequest to Honor Educators and Librarians". MidPen Media Center. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "Cinequest announces big lineup for 30th annual festival". The Mercury News. 2020-01-23. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "Maverick Spirit Hong Chau". Cinequest Film Festival. Retrieved .
  22. ^ Burt, Kyle (March 2014). "Famed Author Neil Gaiman, Matthew Modine, & Father of Cell Phone Cinequest Maverick Spirit Award Recipients" (PDF) (press release). Cinequest. Retrieved 2017.
  23. ^ Burt, Kyle (March 2014). "Cinequest Debuts Media Legacy Award" (PDF) (press release). Cinequest. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ Hussey, Halfdan (March 2015). "Wild Tales: Media Legacy - Anne Thompson". Cinequest. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "Cinequest seeks to increase its impact with this year's festival". The Mercury News. 2018-01-31. Retrieved .
  26. ^ "VR Prize Categories | Cinequest". Retrieved .
  27. ^ "Cinequest Programming Highlights: Notable Films Receiving Distribution After Cinequest Premiere". Cinequest.
  28. ^ "90th Academy Awards Short Films Qualifying Festival List" (PDF).

Further reading

  • Daily, G. (2004). "Cinequest's Maverick Approach to Streaming". Emedia. 17 (6): 10-12.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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