What’s new this year at San Jose’s Cinequest film fest, plus three must-see films

What’s new this year at San Jose’s Cinequest film fest, plus three must-see films
Photo Credit: Cinequest/Spin Me Round
By Wesley Severson - Published on August 15, 2022.

South Bay cinema fans will have plenty to see and do during the second half of August, thanks to the innovative film festival known as Cinequest. The event, which runs from August 16th to August 28th, is back after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The event started in 1990 and has become a significant event for the film industry. 

220 films will be screened at Cinequest this year by filmmakers from 55 countries, and 130 of those films will be world or U.S. premieres. Speaking to the Mercury News, Cinequest co-founder Halfdan Hussey is expecting fans to be uplifted by this year’s films. “For us, the biggest surprise with the film artists was that our expectations were that not a lot of great films were made in the last two and a half years. This year is the biggest comedy and inspirational film lineup we’ve had. People are bummed out enough; let’s do something to make them laugh,” Halfdan Hussey said.

Cinequest normally runs in late winter and can have upwards of $10 million worth of impacts on the local economy in San Jose. This year’s economic impact is a guessing game. “This is the first time we've ever done it in August, so we can't even project what the San Jose impact will be at this point. We have a new beer and wine garden, wonderful new lounges, a great opportunity for people to get together from all walks of life to celebrate movies but, most importantly, each other,” Hussey told the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Cinequest will still be using the California Theatre in downtown San Jose as its central screening location, but films will also be screened at the Hammer Theatre Center, 3Below Theaters, and others. Check the Cinequest calendar page for dates and times.

Three Must-See Films At Cinequest

Spin Me Round: Cinequest is handing out two Maverick Spirit Awards, one of which goes to the star of Spin Me Round, SAG Award winner Alison Brie. She plays the role of a chain restaurant manager who wins a trip to Italy and gets to meet the company’s flirtatious CEO, played by Alessandro Nivola. Things heat up between the two, and then they take a strange turn. There are also plenty of other big names involved in the film, like Aubrey Plaza and former SNL cast members Molly Shannon and Fred Armisen. Spin Me Round screens at 7:15 p.m. on August 17th at the Hammer Theatre.

Linoleum: Cinequest’s other Maverick Spirit Award winner, comedian Jim Gaffigan, plays a host of a lackluster children's science show who can’t let his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut go. When a satellite coincidentally lands in his backyard, he uses it to try to build a rocket in his garage to get him to space. The film also stars Rhea Seehorn (Better Call Saul), and Katelyn Nacon (The Walking Dead). Linoleum will have an opening night screening at 7:30 p.m. on August 16th at the California Theater. After the film, there will be a Maverick Spirit Award presentation and a conversation with Gaffigan.

What We Do Next: Michelle Veintimilla (Gotham) plays Elsa Mercado, who is released from prison 16 years after killing her father. Karen Pittman (The Morning Show, Yellowstone) plays a city councilwoman caught in the middle of some dishonesty she used during the original case, while Corey Stoll (House of Cards, Ant Man) plays an attorney also grappling with his involvement in the case. The film is described as “a timely emotional thriller sitting at the intersection of race, class, and criminal justice.” The world premiere of What We Do Next happens at 7:15 p.m. on August 18th at Hammer Theatre.