TO    Iride Aparicio

Photos Courtesy:  CINEQUEST

SAN JOSÉ, CA --  The idea of starting a Vanguard Film Festival set in Silicon Valley, the home of the world’s most influential media technology, germinated in the mind of HALFDAN HUSSEY when he was  a 22 years old  math student at MYU in New York City, after he began to read literature and study film.

“My student’s job was driving cabs, and while driving, I began (creating) an screen play,” he tells CULTURAL WORLD BILINGUAL in an exclusive interview in his office in S.J. “And the moment I finished school I made my screenplay  into a feature-length film with the Cofounder of Cinequest”  

Shortly After directing and co-producing his movie,"He is still There",  he presented it, at the Venice Film Festival, where it opened to rave reviews and was a hit with the critics. He describes his experience in Venice to us in his own words.

 “There, we learned so much about film festivals from all those kids from around the globe  that came to honor our movie, and more important, to talk with us. We felt so humbled and honored  from the situation that we wanted to give it back to other people, so we decided that the way to do it was with a Film Festival here (in U.S.A.) and we thought of Silicon Valley because we thought that we could use the Spirit of Silicon Valley to give it the special energy and the technology of this place. We moved form New York to California, and that turned out just great"


C.W.B. Why did you name the festival CINEQUEST?

 H.H. "In most Film Festivals, the City, or the location (of the Festival) is the name of the event, but we wanted CINEQUEST to be bigger than one place, to be a global experience. So, we created the word CINEQUEST by using the word CINE from CINEMA, (movies) and QUEST which means venture, to give our Festival a sense of working towards your vision and bringing that vision into reality."

C.W.B. And the word, MAVERICK?

He Smiles before answering,

H. H. “During the festivals, we started to see that there is a similar spirit in people who are in technology and math and science, and those who are in the arts. To us, it is the spirit of people who stays outside of the norm, who are willing to follow their hearts and personal vision, and create something real out of that. The word “Maverick” fits that (spirit) because it comes from the rancher who did not branded his calf, so he did not follow the norm, he did what he thought was “right.” So, we thought, that is what people in Silicon Valley do. They take chances, they do something that is basically personal and highly innovative. The Mavricks do the same thing with their movies.

C.W.B.  When I started covering CINEQUEST (20 years ago) I noticed that some of the first movies it exhibited were unstructured, their technique was not there yet, but for the the last two years the quality of most movies shown had really improved and most of them look Professional. Could you comment about that?

H.H. “Part of that is that it has been a shift in our programming and in our direction. At first, and when we were younger, we believed that what one likes is what everybody else likes, and that was what we wanted to present to our community, which is a very arrogant approach. So, many of the “Maverick” filmmakers were really experimenting and some of their films were extremely bad, But after a while we said “hey”, from now on, only part of the program should be Maverick and another part of the program should present movies with highly realized story-telling, which are films that the other part of our community is going to like as well. So,what that shift did was bring to CINEQUEST a more diverse community participating in it, because  now they have more options in terms of culture, and types of movies, and perspectives.

ma ma-18.jpg
From the movie  MAMA  with Academy Award Winner PENELOPE CRUZ

C.W.B. If you look back at CINEQUEST from its beginning, what, in your opinion is different now?

H.H."If we look at the numbers,( 3,000 people showed up the first year and now we have over l00,000 people) we know that we were unknown then and now we are recognized all over the globe.  We just were recognized as “Best Film Festival” by U.S.A. Today’s readers, these are all nice things, but what really has evolved in CINEQUEST is the technology, that has become more and more important to us. “

Some of the technology that CINEQUEST will be displaying this year will be BARCO ESCAPE, the immersive Movie Experience and a bold step forward in storytelling which allows the audience to expand their creative vision by looking at a film in three different screens.

3D Screen
How a picture looks when reflected in three different screens

C.W.B. What is the focus of CINEQUEST?

H. H. Since  we started the festival, our focus has not been only empowering artists, but in finding out ways to make their art connecting to the audiences. But the thing that really has evolved in CINEQUEST is the community, which I started to understand about 15 years ago when talking to one of my supporters  he told me how much CINEQUEST means to the community.”

“I learned then, that People look forward to CINEQUEST and are happy to participate in the festival. It was then when I started to understand that CINEQUEST is not only an organization that produces something and people came to it, but that CINEQUEST is about the people who come to it every year and  bond together, and connect with each other, and share. So over time, I have seen this community grow and grow.  Now, there is a global community coming to CINEQUEST, because we serve artists around the world, and there is a local community. The people here, that experiences it every year and had made CINEQUEST part of their identity. and part of the cultural fabric of SAN JOSE SILICON VALLEY. That is really rewarding.

C.W.B. As CEO and CEO and Co-Founder of CINEQUEST, do you have a message for the  community?

H.H.  “I call CINEQUEST my DNA  because it has become my energy.  I want people to come to it because they want to see a great movie, a  new premier, to come to see new actors, the new innovations, to come for a celebration. But I want them to get something from CINEQUEST too. I want CINEQUEST to give them an experience than inspires them, that lifts their hearts and allows them to connect and unite with other people. I want CINEQUEST to help to motivate every one. "

“I know that we are going to have people coming from all the walks of life, economic backgrounds, perspectives, you name it, and also people from around the world coming together for common experiences, for movies, for parties, for innovations. And I know that these people are going to share their visions, their ideas and even build friendships and collaborations, so, knowing that,I feel that UNITE, the theme of CINEQUEST this year, will really happen."


UNITE Film Festival will run from March 1 -13, 2016. For information about films and events go to www.Cinequest.org.