After pivoting to online versions due to COVID-19, Cinequest has returned to in-person screenings in a big way, lining their program with world premieres, celeb-studded events and even some comedy shows.
Silicon Valley’s premier film festival got underway this Tuesday and sprawls out to numerous South Bay venues to entertain movie fans from now through Aug. 29.
Subscribe to our weekly arts & culture newsletter
Pass the Remote dug deep into the program to come up with the ideal film to match your every mood.
For a full lineup and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.cinequest.org/.
If you’re in the mood for something with a little kink to it: Crack that whip to see writer/director Charles Lyons’ San Francisco-set romance “Rough Edges,” receiving a world premiere. It’s about two one-night-standers (played by Timothy Huls and Phoebe Jones) who go on to reveal more intimate details about each other after a meetup at a BDSM club. (Should you not know what a BDSM club is, this is probably not your film to see.) It was shot primarily in San Francisco as well as in Oakland and Pleasanton. (8:30 p.m. Saturday at 3Below, San Jose; 9 p.m. Aug. 27 at Pruneyard Cinemas, Campbell)
If you’re in the mood for a martial arts stoner flick: Take a deep inhale of “The Smoke Master,” a hilarious and exciting crowd-pleaser. The odd genre mashup in Andre Sigwalt and Augusto Soares debut feature works because everything about it is energetic: the directing, the acting and the writing. Both wrote this sly screenplay that playfully hinges on a generational curse that the Chinese mafia is attempting to carry out on brothers who are heading toward their 27th birthday. A reclusive smoke master is the only solution to combat those foes, and he imparts his unconventional cannabis-infused wisdom to one brother (Daniel Rocha, in a standout performance). (9:20 p.m. Wednesday at Hammer Theatre Center, San Jose; 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Pruneyard Cinemas)
If you’re in the mood to laugh, cry and maybe identify with dysfunctional families: Cinequest has got you more than covered with two winners that further give credence to that age-old sentiment that “you can’t go home.”
In Almog Avidan Antonir’s exceptional “Trust,” three siblings with a mountain of issues assemble for their mother’s untimely funeral (she commited suicide) and then gather for the reading of a shocking will that spurs more feuds and rubs raws old resentments. It sounds very dark, and while Jennifer Levinson’s screenplay addresses sensitive subject matter with candor and insight, she finds humor along with the heart and soul out of the absurdity. “Trust” receives a world premiere, and it’s simply terrific. (6:45 p.m. Friday and 2:15 p.m. Tuesday at Hammer Theatre Center; 10 p.m. Aug. 26 at Pruneyard Cinemas)
For a slightly less pointed look at a dysfunctional family and how a trio of siblings unite to help out their stern, critical and often racist father once he loses his job, check out “Dealing With Dad.” It too is well-acted and finds humor out of uncomfortable familial behavior and predicaments. Writer/director Tom Huang delicately balances the pathos with the humor, never forsaking one for the other. (7 p.m. Friday and 4:15 p.m. Monday, California Theatre, San Jose)
If you’re in the mood to see a searing drama/thriller: One of the underappreciated qualities of Cinequest is that it brings to Silicon Valley numerous features and shorts that help present us with complex perspectives from across the globe. In writer/director Alastair Newton Brown’s intense “Here Be Dragons,” the specter of war, war crimes and reprisal come into harsh and hazy focus in a Serbian-set drama about a United Nations war crimes investigator realizing that the intentions behind his potentially last assignment might not be what he initially assumed. (9 p.m. Aug. 24 at 3Below and 9 p.m. Aug. 29 at Pruneyard Cinemas)
If you’re in the mood for a documentary on a fascinating topic: Make a fast break to Ry Levey’s illuminating “Out in the Ring,” an interview-intensive look at the LGBTQIA+ wrestling icons and how they stared down prejudice and elevated the presence of diversity while both in and out of the ring. (2:50 p.m. Saturday at Hammer Theatre Center; 2:35 p.m. Aug. 25 and 1:45 p.m. Aug. 27 at Pruneyard Cinemas)
If you’re in the mood for a rockin’ documentary: Groove on Kathleen Ermitage’s “Mixtape Trilogy: Stories of the Power of the Music.”
It goes beyond the standard music doc by telling the stories of three musical groups/artists — the Indigo Girls, composer/pianist Vijay Iyer and rapper/activist Talib Kweli — and their loyal fans. What Ermitage’s film reflects is how music has the power to not only stir and soothe but even transform and profoundly inspire others. (7 p.m. Monday at Hammer Theatre Center; 4:30 p.m. Aug. 25 at Pruneyard Cinemas)