Photos and Video  BY: ANTONIO GADONG

CINEQUEST’s Opening night at the California Theatre in San Jose

If "passion" could be determined by the number of people attending an event, this year’s CINEQUEST  Film Festival (CQFF)  created lots of passion.  On its opening night, the lines of movie goers stretched from the door of the California Theatre to the street, continue along the whole length of the sidewalk and went around the corner with new  people coming.

When  22  years ago Halfdan Hussey, co-founder and now Director of CINEQUEST started  it  in Silicon Valley with co-founder Kathleen Powell, now its President, they did it with one purpose in mind: to empower the creativity and innovation,  of what they called  “the maverick, film  makers,”  The name given to those cinematographers  whose films do not adhere to the so called  “rules”  established by the film-making industry and dare to create “new types of  films” which  demonstrate  their own individual vision  

Hussey, himself  a ‘Maverick" (An innovator-a pioneer who does not go along with what everybody is thinking) demonstrated its independent nature when at the young age of twenty two, after graduating from college Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Literature, he wrote his first screenplay, He’s Still There, directed and co-produced himself. His film opened to great reviews in the Venice Film Festival in Italy.

Halfdan Hussey
CINEQUEST’S DIRECTOR  Halfdan Hussey on opening night  

On Opening night, talking from the stage of  The California Theatre, Mr. Hussey welcomed the audience suggesting that they “Picture the possibilities” and inviting them to welcome “change” because there is power in change, and the real "power" in life comes from within.

Mr. Hussey also made us aware of the importance of film when he mentioned film as the means that with the union of youth with global leaders, business media, and political entertainment leaders, has the ability to reshape and change lives  communities and our world.

Talking about “Passion” which is the theme of this year’s festival he said:  “Passion is the energy that fuels the creative and innovative, the artist and the scientist. Here (at the festival) you innovators gather to meet and empower each other and also the world. When I started this(the festival) 22 years ago I loved it.  I loved it everyday, I love it now and mostly I love the people that CINEQUEST serves.

This year, CINEQUEST leading to this particular celebration had not only been about “passion” but about “compassion” and the “with” part.  “with you,” we are here together and as we connect with film so powerfully and in person, with innovations is an spectacular opportunity to meet those that we know well and those that we will get to know. As you do things, to help when we can and serve in whatever ways we can, and to in many ways help those who are in trouble and carry heavy burdens to lift those burdens and in return, receive a great deal of inspiration. 
So the work of CINEQUEST to bring innovations and creativity to empower a voice globally is incredibly rewarding and I am particularly grateful to be part of that. So as we are here for 13 days and nights, starting today I invite you to connect with each other, to empower each other, and to remind yourselves of the “passion” that makes you and yourselves great.

He then went to a “friend and Board member of  CINEQUEST” who is in Singapore (American Computer Engineer and Programmer who Co-founded Apple Computer Co.) Steve Wozniak who had passion as a child and carry it through his life and through this interview (Shown to the audience that night on film) how his energy keeps driving him

The movie showed how when Wozniak was working at Apple, he always encouraged his engineers not to worry so much about making a “profit” but about taking a step and working their ideas.

In another demonstration of  "passion," Co-founder, and President of CINEQUEST, Kathleen J. Powell, showed her passion for the people and women in particular by presenting 14 women belonging to the Women Initiative Program. (see the movie of her presentation)

Kathleen J. Powell -Women Initiative Program

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The Lady, the political-romantic movie directed by Luc Besson, that was  presented to the audience on opening night had also “passion” as a theme: the passion of Aung San Suu Kyi (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh) for Burma, her country.

Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Novel peace prize en l991, lived a tormented live as activist which included “house-prison” for many years. The daughter of a general who fought for Burma independence, Aung San Suu Kyi, returned to her native Burma from Oxford (where he had a husband (represented by David Thewlis) and two children) after her mother suffered a stroke and remained there (practically abandoning her family) until her determination, which included three attempts to her life, 15 years of house arrest and a hunger strike of several weeks  defeated the Military Junta and got her elected to lead Burma by the newly formed National League for Democracy based on the democratic principles she had established.

The Lady
Michelle Yeoh as Aung San Suu Kyi         Photo courtesy CINEQUEST

The evening also included live entertainment that on that night was provided by a group of passionate dancers who utilize the power of dance to represent the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America in a dance that they describe as connecting with the energy of existence.

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For information about events and movies go to CINEQUEST.ORG or call
At (408) 295 FEST (3378)