Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Phil attends the CINEQUEST 23 Opening Night Extravaganza-February 26, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come! Tonight was the opening night of the Cinequest Film Festival here in Downtown San Jose! Once again yours truly is covering this momentous event, and like last year, I am expecting to see some of the very best in independent, foreign, and documentaries here for the next thirteen days! Once again I got to see some old friends like my good friend and fellow blogger Jason Wiener from Jason Watches Movies as well as Christopher Garcia, Elisabeth Evens, Terra Wood-Taylor, Michael Rabehl, Melanie Frosty and a few others. This year's festival I hope to once again make new friends and new memories. And I am hoping to break my record from last year, which was 56 screenings in thirteen days! My goal for this year's festival is 60 screenings so let's see if i can pull this off!

The opening night was held once again at the beautiful California Theatre on South First Street. There was the traditional red carpet with numerous filmmakers talking about their films to the press and posing for the cameras. Soon I found my way to the front row where Jason and our good friend Roy from the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum was saving me a seat. Around 7 o'clock the lights slowly dimmed and the show began!

Cinequest director and co-founder and Halfdan Hussey came out and greeted everyone and thanked all out sponsors, especially HP, Sony, AT&T U-Verse, and the City of San Jose. He then screened this year's festival trailer that will be shown before each screening, which was made by the talented folks over at Guerilla Wanderers. After that, Halfdan introduced Art Alive Gallery's painted models to the stage, as well as Michelle Vennard, owner of Birkram Yoga San Jose. She and some of her fellow yoga practitioners demonstrated the beauty and grace of yoga. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by this! After that, Halfdan once again welcomed back NBC Bay Area News Meteorologist Christina Loren to introduce the festival's opening film GINGER AND ROSA.
Alice Englert & Elle Fanning in GINGER & ROSA.
The film takes place in London, 1962, and focuses on the friendship of two girls: Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert). Best friends since birth, the two are inseparable as they journey through life together: they stay out late, meet with boys, discuss religion, iron out their hair, rebel against their mother's dull domestic lives, and groove to some very hip records. However, with the Cuban Missile Crisis threatening to annihilate the world, Ginger becomes an activist while Rosa falls into the arms of a man that Ginger is very close to. As the film's tagline says, "Friendship pulled them together. Love tore them apart."Also appearing in the film are Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, and Oliver Platt.

The film was beautifully directed by Sally Potter, of ORLANDO, THE MAN WHO CRIED, and YES fame. The look of the film was that of a dream-like state: amazing compositions, mostly hand held camerawork that is very reminiscent of the European films from that era, and minimal dialogue, which gives the film at times a silent film quality, letting the images tell the story. Potter really focuses on the human aspect, displaying the themes and events of 1962's London while demonstrating the deep and powerful bond between two teenage girls.

Elle Fanning (SOMEWHERE, SUPER 8, and WE BOUGHT A ZOO) is just superb to watch in the film. She brought depth, innocence and and sympathy to her role. She introduces Ginger teenage love and rebellion while simultaneously being forced to comprehend that the world might end tomorrow. The Cuban Missile Crisis nearly brought the United States to war with the now former Soviet Union. What makes the film interesting is to witness how it affected other people from other countries. Ginger becomes fearful; culminating with the desire to help change the world, even though she's not entirely sure as to go about it. But she discovers that her only best friend in the world has fallen in love with the last person she suspects, her whole world comes crashing down, thus causing her so much grief she cannot deal with it. Once again a fantastic performance by Fanning!

The film is very relatable, especially those who grew up during this turbulent time. For myself, it was very reminiscent of my growing up in the 1980's, when the Cold War between the US and Russia was escalating. The days when we would hide underneath our desks, like these drills would save us from nuclear annihilation. If anything the film proves that history does repeat itself, sometimes with horrific results. Let's hope the next generation doesn't have to deal with the same fear as I had to.

After the screening, we all headed over to the lavish after party, which was held over at the Silicon Valley Athletic Club, where they was plenty to eat, drink, and music to dance to! Food was catered by Black Tie Desserts and Fine Catering. Some of the tasty desserts were provided by Psycho Donuts ans Jen's Cakes! Drinks were provided by Tito's Vodka and Stella Artois!! Friends, filmmakers, fans partied till the wee hours in the morning! It was so much fun!
GINGER & ROSA was an absolutely riveting and powerful film to watch! It was the perfect film to kick off Cinequest 23! Now you can partake in this very important film festival event. To view film schedules, information about the festival, and to purchase tickets and passes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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