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by Peter Knegt
February 25, 2009 2:06 AM
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Cinequest Opens Today With "Wake"

A scene from Ellie Kanner's "Wake." Image courtesy of Cinequest.

The 19th Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California will open today with a program of 150 films, including 72 U.S., North American and World Premieres for its February 25-March 8, 2009 event. Under the theme "transform," the festival will open with the World Premiere of director Ellie Kanner's romantic comedy "Wake," which stars Bijou Phillips, Ian Somerhalder, Danny Masterson and Jane Seymour. The film portrays the story of "an emotionally isolated, modern girl fixated with death and other people's funerals and ultimately her journey to connect with people in life." Closing the festival will be Roger Nygard's "The Nature of Existence," which lcldes figures like luminary figures such as Sri Sri Shankar, Richard Dawkins, Leonard Susskind and Irvin Kershner in a humorous investigation of what "it is that makes us who we are."

“Cinequest Film Festival 19 will transform via celebration, innovation, humor, love, provocation, and inspiration," Festival Programming Director Michael Rabehl explained to indieWIRE. He is referencing how the festival's theme will be divided in to various subsections, such as "Celebration," which features notable screenings include Richard Ledes' "The Caller," starring Frank Langella and Elliott Gould, the World Premiere of Alfonso Corona's "Euforia," Jeffrey Goodman's noir romance "The Last Lullaby," starring Tom Sizemore, the North American Premiere of Tennyson Bardwell's "The Skeptic," starring Tim Daly and Tom Arnold, the World Premiere of Christopher Cannuccian's "New Brooklyn," and actress Nandita Das' directorial debut, "Firaaq."

Another theme is "Innovation," which will deliver three days of Film & Innovation Forums to "motivate, educate and fascinate both filmmakers and film fans." This year's forums include "The Marriage of Television and the Internet," which will look at how the Internet has made great strides in "democratizing film delivery, providing more choices, and making it easier to browse, socialize, select and view films;" "Lights, Camera... P2," detailing how "technologies must serve the story, artistry and the budgets of filmmaking to have impact;" and "The Third Dimension," about how "new 3-D filmmaking could revolutionize theatrical."

Other themed programs include "Humor," which includes Oliver Irving's "How To Be...," starring Robert Pattinson as a young man who hires a self-help author to move in with him and his parents to solve the source of his problems; "Love," which features the World Premiere of Oliver Cukor's "Blue Road"; "Provocation," with the North American Premiere of Lionel Baier's "Another Man," about "a film journalist's lustful and sadistic affair with a femme fatale"; And "Inspiration," which includes Mark Young's directorial debut "The Least Among You," starring Louis Gossett, Jr., Lauren Holly and WIlliam Devane

This year's Maverick Spirit Award winners have yet to be announced. Past recipients have included Kevin Spacey, Gus Van Sant, William H. Macy, John Schlesinger, Jennifer Jason Leigh, John Waters, Sir Ben Kingsley and Spike Lee.

For a complete list of films, please visit the festival's website.

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