Monday, March 12, 2012

Phil attends CINEQUEST 22: Day Twelve-March 10, 2012

This is it folks! The official last day of the Cinequest 22 Film Festival! Tomorrow the festival will be having its Encore Day, but before I get into that, I have another four films to review.

I started my day off at the San Jose Rep Theatre where the first film I saw was BATTLE OF THE QUEENS (KAMPF DER KONIGINNEN). Directed by Nicolas Steiner, this stunning black and white documentary takes place in the Valais region of Switzerland where thousands of people gather to watch an event called the Battle of the Queens. Every year magnificent and muscle-bound cows duke it out to claim the honor of being the best of the best (they don't use bulls for they are too dangerous to be let out in the open). Shot in the formentioned black and white and in widescreen, complete with an amazing score that Steiner wrote, and fantastic slow motion sequences during the actual fight scenes.

The film was preceded by a short the Steiner did back in film school called IT'S ME, HELMUT. On his 60th birthday (or is it 57? We may never know the answer) a few of Helmut's friends stop by to wish him a happy birthday, but it's a bittersweet one for him. Using props and tear away sets, the film was shot in one long 12 minute take. Steiner said that he could only afford three roles of 16mm film and guess what? He finally got it all on the last roll of film.

After the film was over, Steiner participated in a fun and informative Q&A session. He also thanks all of us in attendance for showing up for tonight's screening. He said that this was the largest crowd he had during the festival! I was very glad I got to see the astounding film! This was the last screening of the film, but keep your eyes peeled if it comes out to a theater near you!

For my second and third features of the day I headed back to the Camera 12. The second film I saw was the comedy SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS, directed by Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson. Sarah Sparks (Anna Margaret Hollyman) is a committed tech-geek and also pregnant. She's afraid that she'll be more interested in ultrasound technology than in what's being ultra-sounded. When her sister lures her to L.A. for what ends up being a horrible baby shower, Sarah keeps her rental van and hits the road in search of the source of her anxiety: her estranged mother, now living "off the grid."

The film was preceded by a ten minute short film called VACANT. It's about two women that handle their husband's absence across the border in different ways. Really bittersweet short.

The film was smart, funny, and sweet. It has heart and something that's very rare to see: a unknown and talented woman who really turns in a great performance! Hollyman really nails her part as the idiosyncratic tech-geek Sarah. Really a great funny and emotional film. Today was the last screening but you can visit the film's official website at

Film number three was the awesome, locally made film DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR. Directed by Iris Almaraz with special guest director Gustavo Ramo, the film takes place in the mid-90s and stars Leana Chavez as Lulu, a voluptuous, sassy, grungy girl who can no longer stand living with her father and step mom. Especially since she stopped taking her Prozac medication and now sees them as totally lame. While working at her job making coffee, she sees a room for rent sign and moves to San Fransisco to live with her new transgender friend, Illusion (the hilarious Salvador Benavides). Finally free, she begins to find herself and her sexuality. She soon realizes that the right guy for her is her best friend Mario (Ronnie Alvarez).

This is local filmmaking at its finest! Words cannot express on just how much I loved this film! It has the look and feel of San Francisco and all that makes it so unique. Great directing, great acting, great script equals a great film! Highly recommended to all you local filmmakers! Today was the last screening of the film but check out the film's official website at

For the forth and final film of the day, I made my way to the California Theatre for the festival's closing night screening of THE DEEP BLUE SEA. The latest film by acclaimed director Terence Davies, adapted the script from the Terence Rattigan play of the same name. The film stars Oscar winner Rachel Weiz as Hester Collyer, who is married to British Judge William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale) but soon finds herself in a very steamy and self-destructive love affair with a Royal Air Force pilot named Freddie Page (portrayed by Tom Hiddleston).

Before the film, Davies came out on stage and accepted the Maverick Spirit award from Cinequest director and co-founder Halfdan Hussey. Long time Cinequest moderator Laura Barbarino interviewed Davies as he regaled the audience with funny memories and his life as a director. After the screening, we all headed over the San Jose Tech Museum, which held the lavish closing night party! Fun was had by all, and yours truly had an absolute blast!

There you have it folks! That was the "official" end of the festival. Now there will be an Encore Day on Sunday, which means they will show the films that won awards that were voted on by a panel of jurors as well as audience votings. So make sure you come down and enjoy Encore Day with me this Sunday, March 11th. The schedule is up on the Cinequest website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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