In Conversation with Iride Aparicio

Photos courtesy of CINEQUEST

San José, CA – Programming Director MICHAEL RABEHL,  takes a few minutes from his busy schedule to tell the readers of Cultural World Bilingual what CINEQUEST, one of the most famous Film Festivals in the United States because of its Maverick approach to film making, has prepared for the 25th Anniversary celebration.

A member of CINEQUEST  since l995, the Director manages the film selection process for the festival and supervises the programming teams to create a world class line up of films.  In his role as Associate Director, he is also involved with the strategic planning for the festival.

MICHAEL describes his work as follows:I managed the teams that selects all the films for the festival. I go through all the submissions. We look at other Film Festivals. We meet with sales agents and distributors and we also recruit the guests for the awards. That’s my main job.

C.W.B.  Do you see all the films that are submitted to CINEQUEST?

MICHAEL: I don’t personally see everything, but I see all the feature films for the festival that were submitted to us because I work with the spot-programmer in New York who get films from the distributors. This year, I have seen  about 86 of them. Last year, between April and December, I saw about 600 of them.

C.W.B. From all those films, how many do you select?

MICHAEL: We received 2,400 submissions of short features, from those we selected 214.

C.W.B. Speaking from one cinematographer to another, what made you select those particular pictures?

MICHAEL: “For the most part, we (CINEQUEST) stick with films that we think try to create something different of personal, but at the same time we look for films that obviously people come to, because they feel it was worth their time to watch them.  Quality is very important. A lot of the times, when I see films with bad acting or writing, those films don’t make it in. Another reason (for rejection) is that the films may be really great films but not necessarily stand above other films. The easy way to explain that is that some times (selecting the films) is a gut feeling that This is going to be great for the audience, some other  times it is Let’s take a chance on this film and see how the audience feels about it, and some time it is a You know what? This is something that is really different and never seen before, so let’s do it.” In selecting the films, we try to blend in lots of visions and a lot of artistic expressions, but out of the film dimensions, there were 71 feature films this year that we turned away that we could have loved to program, but we did not have the space for them. We have about 90 films this year and every film will have a guest, so we are going to have a lot of Q's and A’s and lots of filmmakers, directors and actors.”

C.W.B.  What will CINEQUEST offer this year to the Spanish-speaking community?

MICHAEL: “There are three features from Mexico this year: “Los Hamsters,” which is a dysfunctional family comedy, “Gonzalez, ” that won an Award in Montreal last year  y  “La Vida Despues”  which is an eerie really amazing drama between two bothers in a row trip. I was told that all three directors of the films are going to be here.

 C.W.B.  Is there anything special CINEQUEST has prepared for its 25th  Anniversary?:

MICHAEL  “I really think that the film  “Wild Tales” is going to blow people away. Its title is appropriate because it is wild. It is an Argentinian film that is nominated for an Academy Award right now, and I think that it is absolutely amazing. One of the best things that we have shown in a long time because it is done in an amazing way.”

 C.W.B. As Programming Director, what do you, expect for CINEQUEST 25?

“Every year, during CINEQUEST, you come here and go to a film and when you stand in line you talk to the people you see, and suddenly, all of you are talking with each other, making friends, and discovering film together. That is what CINEQUEST does and what I like most, that it pulls the community during those two weeks. So, this year, at the hospitality parties we want people to be interactive with the community, with the artists with each other. That is what I expect from CINEQUEST 25,”

NATHAM LOUIE and Volunteer Cordinator TERI NGUYEN 
NATHAM LOUIE and Volunteer Coordinator TERI NGUYEN
At the Launch party of  CINEQUEST        Picture: Ezebis.com

C.W.B.  And what can these people expect from CINEQUEST this year?

MICHAEL: There are so many good things happening this year,  that it is hard for me to think what I could really highlight. So for me, I think that, this year in particular, the “Discovery Films” which are the films of first and second time filmmakers that are really strong. We are so happy that we have such great films this year. And also that we have these wonderful “Maverick Guests” these writers, these directors like LAWRENCE KASDAN  who wrote “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Body Heat,” and “The Big Chill” and directed those. He is is one of my favorites. And we also have DENNIS LEHANE the Shutter Island writer, and ROSARIO DAWSON. There are not many actresses who do as much as she does, but DAWSON is an actress and activist who does a lot for the community, she does a lot for people, she is innovated in lots of different arias. I just love the fact that we have this kind of people at this year's festival. People who we could shot the light on because of their work of their expansion showing the public what it means to be an artist."

CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL 25 will open on February 24 at the California theatre. For tickets and information contact www.cinequest.org