I’ve already seen over twenty offerings from Cinequest 2016, and here are my initial recommendations.
For Grace: a winning British dramedy about an adoptee’s search for his biological family that doesn’t go as expected. First feature for director Sebastian Armesto. North American premiere at Cinequest.
Quality Problems: a remarkably successful indie dramedy that is equally funny and insightful. First feature film for directors Brooke and Doug Purdy. World premiere at Cinequest.
The Twinning Reaction: a startling and moving documentary about a Mad Men-era research project and its profound human impact. World premiere at Cinequest.
THE BEST OF WORLD CINEMA
The Teacher: a gripping Iron Curtain Slovak-language drama with a brilliant, award-winning performance from Zuzana Mauréry in the title role. I’ve seen over twenty Cinequest films so far, and this one is probably the best.
Exiled: a gripping and haunting Latvian drama. One of the most emotionally powerful and visually arresting films at this year’s Cinequest. North American premiere.
SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BEFORE
Painless: in this indie thriller about obsession and loneliness, a man cannot experience physical pain – and, in this movie, freedom from pain is a BAD thing. First narrative feature film for director Jordan Horowitz. World premiere at Cinequest.
Prodigy: this indie psychological thriller Prodigy features a potentially lethal game of wits between a psychologist and a superhuman sociopath – who is nine years old. First feature film for directors Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal. World premiere at Cinequest.
Aloys: a Swiss drama where a lonely surveillance expert (think The Conversation) is dared by an unknown woman to use aural clues to visualize himself in places and situations and, ultimately find her. His imagination is unleashed, and he creates fantasies at once both more real and more outlandish. First feature for director Tobias Nölle.
GET OUT THE HANKIES
Memento Mori: this documentary about organ donation must be the most emotionally shattering film at Cinequest. First feature film as solo director for Niobe Thompson. US premiere at Cinequest.
BEFORE IT’S IN THEATERS – SEE IT HERE FIRST
Several Cinequest films already are planned for theatrical release later this year. I haven’t seen them yet, but you can see them first at Cinequest: The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Last Word, Carrie Philby, Tommy’s Honour, The Promise, The Ottoman Lieutenant and (Re)assignment. The Commune and Una also have US distributors. I’m especially looking forward to these movies (that I have not yet seen):
- The Commune: Director Thomas Vinterberg has directed two of my favorites: Celebration and the 2014 Cinequest triumph The Hunt. This one is about a Danish commune in the 1970s.
- (Re)Assignment (soon to be released as The Assignment): From the master of the genre thriller Walter Hill (The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, 48 Hrs.). A vengeful plastic surgeon (Sigourney Weaver) captures a hit man (Michelle Rodriguez) and performs sexual reassignment surgery on him, releasing a new hit woman (also Michelle Rodriguez) into the world.
Take a look at the entire program, the schedule and the passes and tickets. (If you want to support Silicon Valley’s most important cinema event while skipping the lines, the tax-deductible $100 donation for Express Line Access is an awesome deal.)
As usual, I’ll be covering Cinequest rigorously with features and movie recommendations. I usually screen (and write about) over thirty films from around the world. Bookmark my Cinequest 2017 page, with links to all my coverage. Follow me on Twitter for the latest.