Free Ice Cream Cone Day at Häagen-Dazs

icecreamconeJoin participating Häagen-Dazs shops for free cone day this Tuesday MAY 12, 2015 from 4:00 – 8:00 PM and get one free kiddie size ice cream in either a cup, sugar cone, or cake cone.

Participating shops:

Valley Fair Mall
2855 Stevens Creek Blvd. Suite 2458
Santa Clara, CA  95050-6709
(408) 260-8882

Oakridge Mall
925 Blossom Hill Road, Store #1744
San Jose, CA  95123
(408) 281-8646

Stoneridge Mall
1144 Stoneridge Mall Rd, #B-120
Pleasanton, CA  94588
(925) 468-0293

San Francisco Premium Outlets
2774 Livermore Outlets Drive
Livermore, CA  94551
(925) 243-9908

If your area is not listed above, check here.

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A Magical Evening at Opera San Jose

Well, I was at the afternoon matinee, but still. It was one of the best times I’ve had at the opera, and I’m so happy that there is still time for you to see it. The Magic Flute is a show for adults and children, oldies and newbies, opera and theatre lovers. And it includes a majestic dragon!!

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

This may not be the best show I’ve ever seen at Opera San Jose, but I still enjoyed it so much and it is a great show for other Opera Novices and Newbies.  As always, the performances were incredible, the story was great, the music was beautiful, the costumes were gorgeous, …but there are some stand-outs that make this a show you should not miss.

1.  This is a great opera for Newbies and families with children.  The Magic Flute is sung in German but has spoken words in English. It always throws me off when an opera is not entirely sung, which is probably the only issue I had with this show, but for newbies and children this is a great plus and makes for an easy introduction to opera.  As always, the lyrics (and spoken lines) are projected in super titles above the stage so you can follow along.  The show has children involved, though they are not the stars, and there were many children in the audience. Although I wasn’t sure they would be able to follow the story entirely, there was not a peep from any of them during the entire three hours.

2. Chris Salinas, Daniel Ostrom and Winter Felton-Priestner are three very young men who can now add “Soprano, Opera San Jose” to their resumes and I don’t think they’ve even hit middle school yet. This certainly trumps my own resume and I might be a tiny bit jealous.

3. There are a couple scenes with children silently wearing beautifully painted animal masks, and the animal-like choreography was riveting. Kudos to both the choreographer and the kids for nailing each of their parts and creating a magical tableau whenever they were on stage.

4. The show is often very funny, usually thanks to Matthew Hanscom as hapless Papageno.  Papageno just wants a wife to love him, but how will he find a woman who wants to marry a poor bird trainer?

5. Isabella Ivy (soprano) is breathtaking as the Queen of the Night.  Two of the songs she sang were so intricate and complicated that any Newbie could see these must be some of the most difficult pieces in opera.  Even more amazing, she sang one of these very complicated pieces in the upper ranges of the scale, while kneeling down, and as she stood her foot got tangled in her skirts. She not only calmly untangled herself, but she never missed a beat or a note in one of the most amazing sections of music I have ever heard. Every jaw in the theater was hanging open. She was incredible.

6. THE DRAGON.  The dragon was simply the most beautiful prop I have ever seen. It was huge and graceful and gorgeous and majestic.  Its wings moved, it spouted smoke from its mouth (the kids in the audience LOVED this), and for me it was the star of the show.  During intermission I voiced my hopes that the dragon would make another appearance, and it did when everyone came out for a bow. That dragon earned its ovation, and so have the operators, the designers and creaters of that piece.  More dragons like that need to be in opera!!

When the entire thing was over I realized that I had had a really fun time. I haven’t always enjoyed every opera I’ve attended, and it has taken me a while to appreciate some parts of opera. But ever since Madama Butterfly, Opera SJ has been drawing me in. I may still be the Opera Novice in most aspects, but I am also quite certainly becoming an Opera Lover.

Recently I have noticed the shows have not had two casts, and are instead having one cast do a shorter run of each show. I don’t know if this is a financial decision (or just a coincidence), but I can say that the performers have upped their game, and the performances are tighter than I’ve ever seen. Try if you can to make one of the last performances (I have heard they are close to selling out all shows) but if you don’t make this one, mark your calendars quickly to get seats for next season. It starts with Puccini’s Tosca, and after that come The Marriage of Figaro (YAY!), Carmen (YAY!), and then A Streetcar Named Desire. That is going to be one amazing season and this Opera Novice is looking forward to it more than ever.

The Magic Flute
Opera San Jose
Thru May 3

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100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity

Albert_EinsteinJeffrey Bennett, Ph.D. an astronomer from the University of Colorado, will discuss 100 Years of Einstein’s Relativity (and How It Underlies Our Modern Understanding of the Universe), a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College.

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s completion of his General Theory of Relativity, the comprehensive theory of space, time and gravity.

Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity along with quantum mechanics.

Dr. Bennett is the author of college-level textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics and statistics, as well as the popular books “What is Relativity?” and “Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life.”

Dr. Bennett will sign copies of “What is Relativity?” after the lecture in Appreciation Hall (Room 1501).

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the theatre. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
7:00 pm
Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

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Northern California Botball Tournament 2015

Botball
2015 Northern California Tournament this Saturday, April 18, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm at NASA Ames Research Center. FREE to watch.

The robot compete by performing various tasks which are judged for speed and accuracy: however, during the head-to-head competition, the robots can be programed to sabotage their competitors.

Event Schedule:
8:00 AM – Registration / Open Practice

10:00 AM – Seeding Rounds Begin

1:00 PM – Lunch Break

2:00 PM – Double Elimination Rounds Begin

5:30 PM – Awards Presentation Begins

NASA Ames Research Center, N152 Conference Building, Room 171
Moffett Field, CA 94035

April 18, 2015
from 10:00 am
FREE to watch

Event Directions:
Go on US 101 freeway to the Moffett Field exit, then:
Show your drivers license to the guard at the gate, and say you are attending the Botball Tournament in the NASA Conference Center, N152. Drive straight, down Clark Road to just before the Shuttle model, turn right on Wescoat Road, then in a couple blocks, turn right on McCord Ave, and in one block, stay right at the ‘Y’ (note sign to N152) to Dailey Road for another block and you’ll see N152 on the right. The parking is on the left, across the street.

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Free Drive-In Movie Night

Drive-In_Movie
Free Drive-In Movie Night at the Capitol 6 in San Jose this Thursday, April 16, 2015 – gates open 6:00 pm

Capitol 6 Drive-In movies include:

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
or…
Paddington with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
or…
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water with Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
or…
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 with Paddington

Capitol 6 Drive-In
3630 Hillcap Ave., San Jose

Gates open at 6:00 pm. Films start at dusk
Admission is free

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Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day 2015

icecream
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 from Noon to 8:00 pm is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s.

Participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Bay Area are opening their doors from noon to 8 pm to serve up a free scoop of any flavor of your choice.

Since 1979, it’s Ben & Jerry’s way to celebrate and say thanks to their fans for another year of support.

Participating locations:

SAN JOSE
115 East San Carlos
San Jose

BERKELEY – CENTER STREET
2130 Center Street
Suite 102
Berkeley

ARGONAUT
475 Jefferson Street
San Francisco

MACY’S
170 O’Farrell St.
Macy’s Department Store
San Francisco

JACK LONDON SQUARE
505 Embarcadero West
Oakland

HAIGHT ASHBURY
1480 Haight Street
San Francisco

FISHERMAN’S WHARF
Pier 41
Pier 41, c/o Chatzka’s Inc. The Box
San Francisco

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Encountering the First Dwarf Planet

Dawn_space_probe
Marc Rayman, Ph.D., the mission director for NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, will discuss Encountering the First Dwarf Planet: The Dawn Mission to Ceres, a free, illustrated, non-technical lecture Wednesday, April 8, at 7:00 p.m. in the Smithwick Theatre at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

The Dawn Spacecraft is now in orbit around Ceres —the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt and also the first dwarf planet to be discovered. Ceres was discovered January 1,1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi of Italy. As big across as Texas, Ceres’ nearly spherical body has a differentiated interior – denser material at the core and lighter minerals near the surface.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Dawn mission. It is the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion, which enabled it to enter and leave the orbit of multiple celestial bodies.
Ion propulsion is a technology that involves ionizing a gas to propel a craft. The gas xenon is given an electrical charge, or ionized. It is then electrically accelerated to a speed of about 30 km/second. When xenon ions are emitted at such high speed as exhaust from a spacecraft, they push the spacecraft in the opposite direction.

Dr. Rayman is both mission director and chief engineer for Dawn. He has worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1986, designing instruments for space telescopes, Mars measurements, the search for planets around other stars and laser communications with spacecraft.

Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Arrive early to locate parking.

Parking lots 1, 7 and 8 provide stair and no-stair access to the Smithwick Theater. Visitors must purchase a parking permit for $3 from dispensers in student parking lots. Dispensers accept one-dollar bills and quarters; bring exact change.

Smithwick Theater, Foothill College
12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills
(650) 949-7888

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
7:00 pm

Admission: Free
Parking: $3.00

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Filmmakers bring Shakespeare to Retirement Home in Cinequest film

Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller take a break while shooting STILL DREAMING. Photo by Genevieve Russell.

Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller take a break while shooting STILL DREAMING. Photo by Genevieve Russell.

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of Still Dreaming, from concept to financing.

As documentary makers, we are really drawn to making ensemble pieces that are very character driven with a strong narrative that takes place over a period of time. We first began thinking about STILL DREAMING in late 2003, when a potential funder of our last film, SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS, suggested that Romeo and Juliet done in a nursing home would make an interesting film. We agreed, but we were busy with SBB, so we let the idea simmer for a few years. In 2009, we picked it back up and began researching theater being done in retirement homes. We contacted The Lillian Booth Actors Home in New Jersey, which is a retirement facility for people in entertainment and their family members. They had a Shakespeare club already, but were not doing full productions. The administration of the Home was very open to the idea of having the residents engage more fully by doing an entire play with an outside director. They were curious about how it would impact the residents’ quality of life. As for us, we fell in love with the residents that lived at The Home and their stories. Many of them have very rich histories of performing on Broadway and other very esteemed venues. They really lived in a golden age of entertainment and they readily share those stories.

Ultimately, we followed this ensemble doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the summer of 2011. A great element of the situation was that the troupe ended up being directed by two young co-directors in their 30’s – Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld ofFiasco Theater in NYC. It made for a very interesting situation, in that Ben and Noah really had no idea what they were stepping into in terms of the challenges of Aging that came up for the participants. Also for us, the dynamic of the two directors was great from a story point of view – instead of having to interview one director about what was going on, we could observe the two of them in dialogue with each other and learn a lot that way, which is usually more interesting than an interview.

The underlying theme of the film that really spoke to us was that Aging is something that we generally fear, both personally and as a society. We wanted to ask the questions: “How can Aging be a more positive experience and not just something that we dread? And can we still be creatively viable as we get into our 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Does creativity enhance the Aging process?”

2Q: Still Dreaming has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

The film is still so new, but we’re gaining confidence by the day for sure. You can never really anticipate how an audience will receive a film. We just try to tell the best story we can and not worry about pleasing an audience, so that feels like high-stakes gamble sometimes. There’s so much on the line. You’ve put SO much of your heart, soul, spirit and likely, personal finances, into a film. So you want it to be embraced and loved just as you would your flesh and blood child! Success hopefully means the ability to make another film, and as an artist, that is always a very strong impulse – to keep creating. It’s been very gratifying to see audiences fall in love with the film and want to share it with others.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Still Dreaming?

I think the best experience making the film was going to The Lillian Booth Actors Home every day and being with these amazing elders. Joan Stein would always play her piano for us – you could ask her to do anything and she would give you some background on it and play it from memory. Extraordinary for an 87 year old woman with Parkinsons and Scoliosis! Such an inspiration. In particular, one day she and Charlotte Fairchild were doing some songs in the middle of the day at the piano as they often do. They launched into “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein from Carousel. The rehearsal that day had been particularly difficult and to hear them do this song, which is very challenging vocally, and to listen to its message just made my hair stand up on end. It was perfectly fitting – that even in the hard times there is hope. That was my favorite moment of my favorite day, and of course, it plays a great cathartic role in narrative of the film.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

This film has it all – humor, drama, heart. Great characters and a roller coaster of a narrative. And if you’re freaked out about aging, you should see this film! It will give you hope and a new way to think about your own aging process. If you have aging parents or grandparents, it will give you some ideas about how their quality of life could be better. We hope to really help people reframe the idea of Aging – to feel hopeful and proactive about it, not in denial and fear! And if you’re a Shakespeare lover, then you have to see this ensemble’s take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s awesome!

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Still Dreaming. Give us your acceptance speech.

It’s a true honor to be given the gift of a story to share with the world. It is a privilege when real people let you into their lives and show you their struggles and vulnerabilities. We all learn from that and it knits us together in this crazy, often difficult life. We would very much like to thank all of the residents and staff of The Lillian Booth Actors Home for trusting us with their stories. We are forever grateful!

See STILL DREAMING at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow them on Twitter!

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Kyle Steinbach directs hysterical horror film at Cinequest now

Kyle Steinbach wrote and directed BAD EXORCISTS

Kyle Steinbach wrote and directed BAD EXORCISTS

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of BAD EXORCISTS, from concept to financing.

I don’t remember when the idea hit me, but when it did, it certainly had staying power. After my initial resistance, these silly teenage exorcists entrenched themselves in my brain, and I had no choice but to write the script. My producers helped develop the project with me over a year, and we shot the film during the summer of 2013.

Our financing consisted of friends, family, family friends, and people who believed in the us and our project. And not to mention our amazing Kickstarter backers who carried us through post-production. They’re all my superheroes. Seriously. They all wear spandex and capes and stuff. It’s weird.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of BAD EXORCISTS. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?

I’m ecstatic and beyond thrilled for Cinequest. What more could I ask for? Free Chipotle for life? Ok. Yes. That would be nice too.

As for how people will react to the film…

Audiences will hate* it. They will throw tomatoes** at the screen, they will shower us in curses***, and we will depart San Jose as failures****.

* love
** roses
*** gold
**** kings

Honestly, though, I just hope people like it. I think it’s a lot of fun!

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making BAD EXORCISTS?

My worst experience was when production ended. That was very sad. My second worst experience was when, on the last night of production, I ruined several expensive leather chairs due to a leaking pen in my back pocket. I must’ve sat on six different chairs in about 15 minutes. All ruined. It was like I was playing a game of musical chairs by myself. And I lost.

My best experience was banding together and staying up all night with these amazingly talented people for four weeks. It was like an exorcist-themed summer camp. I’ve never laughed more.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

If I was a film critic, this would be my review of Bad Exorcists:
“Bad Exorcists?? More like GREAT Exorcists, because this movie is great!!”

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for BAD EXORCISTS. Give us your acceptance speech.

Bad Exorcists will certainly win an Oscar next year, so this is a good question, but, in the spirit of the film, I would like to propose an alternative Q:

Time to pre-plan: You just won the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss for BAD EXORCISTS. Give us your acceptance speech:

*The crowd roars*

“Wow. Thank you. Thank you, teens. Please. Enough — Ok, yes, thanks again, I am the greatest. I didn’t kiss anyone in the film, so I don’t know why I won this award, but I’d like to thank everyone who believed in the project, and the countless people who pledged time and money to make it possible. It’s because of amazing, selfless people like you this film exists at all. And, of course, thanks, to the MTV Foreign Press Association. And, finally, last but not least, let’s not forget who this award is really about: this one’s for the teens.”

See BAD EXORCISTS at Cinequest!
View the trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

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Ali Akbarzadeh brings net neutrality documentary to Cinequest

Ali(Director)

Ali Akbarzadeh directs KILLSWITCH

 

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of KILLSWITCH, from concept to financing.

Ali (director) – The idea for Killswitch came about during the Arab Spring. It was the first time that I truly understood the power and the threat of the Internet. I realized that perhaps for the first time in history the people had a tool that could break existing power structures and topple autocratic regimes. A tool that also, by it’s very design, could enshrine the principles of true democracy. As I became obsessed with this potential I wondered if it could be taken away. Could a killswitch exist here in America? So, with my camera, I embarked on a journey. Over the course of 3 years, I sat down with 24 of the world’s top minds with regard to internet policy – hackers, academics, policy makers, think tank-ers and government officials alike. Each came from different backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common – they cared deeply about this technology and found a way to help protect it.

As for the financing, my producing partner Jeffrey Horn and I decided to allocate our company’s marketing budget to cover the cost of traveling to interview the first round of people at NCMR in Boston. Then we cut together a small trailer and posted to Kickstarter. We did raise quite a bit of support, but ultimately did not reach our funding goal. We did, however, have a very generous donor agree to donate outside of kickstarter, so we used that money to get another round of interviews and put together another trailer. Long story short, the trailer ended up in the hands of Larry Taubman, who is the founder of Occupy.com. We met him and he very graciously agreed to finance the rest of the film.

2Q: KILLSWITCH has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

It is never easy watching your film. At this point I’ve lost all objectivity, and I can only see flaws or things that I would have done differently. That said, the actual process of going to film festivals is always a great experience. You meet passionate people and get to see great filmmaking, for me that’s the real reward.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making KILLSWITCH.

After we had replaced 2 editors, I decided to go to Orcas Island and basically isolate myself from everyone and cut the film on my own. This should have been the ‘best’ experience, but ultimately after 3 weeks when I sat back and watched the new cut I hated it. Having to show this cut to the producers and explain that I needed to rebuild the whole thing from the ground up was the worst experience.

Sitting across from the world’s elite thinkers and engaging in conversation is certainly one of the best experiences of documentary filmmaking. But I have to say that the moment that stands out to me as the BEST experience was, after about a month of research, finding our editor Prichard Smith. After meeting with him, I knew instantly that he got vision of the film and he was able to come in with ruthless objectivity. When he showed me the first sequence he cut, I felt the excitement that I had when I started the project 3 years earlier.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

People should see this film because it addresses what I believe are the most important issues of our time. The battle to control information is a very real issue with a lot at stake both for free speech and the future of democracy. We’ve worked very hard to create a film that takes complicated issues and communicates them on a human level. The film has already played a part in the Net Neutrality debate and our hope is that it continues to ignite the debate we all need to be having about the control of information in the 21st century.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for KILLSWITCH. Give us your acceptance speech.

Ahh.. Chris Dodd would never allow a film that bashes the MPAA to win an Oscar. ;-) But we’re cool with that.

See KILLSWITCH at Cinequest!
Follow them on Facebook!
Follow Ali on Twitter!

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Melissa Donovan brings important documentary to Cinequest

Melissa Donovan, director of ZEMENE

Melissa Donovan, director of ZEMENE

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of Zemene, from concept to financing.

I never set out to make a film in Ethiopia. Actually, I was working as a cinematographer on another project and following Dr Rick Hodes, a potential character in that film, when we bumped into Zemene on the street in Gondar, Ethiopia in 2007. Zemene was so fragile looking with a severely crooked spine, and this is what Dr Rick spotted as he crossed the street that day. Dr Rick Hodes is the medical director in Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and has spent a majority of his time helping rural children with crooked spines get medical care. This chance encounter really was a miracle; Zemene had just been told by the hospital that there was nothing anyone could do to help her. Zemene captured my attention from that first moment. Her spirit, her courage just radiated out of her beautiful smile, a stark contrast to her small, fragile frame. At that moment, Zemene took my hand, as I held the camera in my other hand, and took a piece of my heart. This serendipitous meeting confirmed for me that what’s in front of you is what you should focus on. I’ve never made a film before, only working as a camerawoman, but after meeting Zemene, I realized there was nothing better I could do with my life than to figure out how to share her story. And so that’s how this all began. This film was made over the course of 5 years. Initial funding was personal savings and then family and friends came on board. I was fortunate after production to get a foundation gift to get me through the majority of the editing. I’m still fundraising to help me with the marketing aspects as well as getting the film to festivals.

2Q: Zemene has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

I’ve been in four festivals so far and they have all been wonderful experiences. I realize how much goes into putting a festival together now and I have so much respect for the people that are behind them. I am especially excited to attend Cinequest, it will be my California Premiere! The Cinequest team has been so organized and positive about “Zemene” that I’m just excited to be there!

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Zemene?

My best experience was seeing Zemene turn into the amazing, inspiring young woman she is today. My other best experience was having the privilege of being around Dr Rick and realizing how much impact one person can have on another’s life.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

I would say that if you’re interested in seeing an amazing, inspiring true story and a glimpse of life in a beautiful part of the world that you probably haven’t seen, well this is the film you should check out. It also has great music!

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Zemene. Give us your acceptance speech.

I would like to thank the Academy for this incredible honor. Thank you to everyone who helped me bring Zemene’s story to the big screen. Thank you to Dr Rick Hodes and Menormelkam for giving a 2nd chance at life to a little girl who now wants to help others. And thank you to Zemene for never giving up on life.

See ZEMENE at Cinequest!
View the Trailer!
Follow them on Facebook!

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Director brings Craig Clevenger novel to Cinequest screens

Craig Clevenger is the San Franciscan author of The Contortionist’s Handbook and Dermaphoria.  Director Ross Clarke brings the film version of Dermaphoria to the big screen at Cinequest this week.

This is our interview with director Ross Clarke.

Ross Clarke, directing stars Joseph Morgan and Ron Perlman.

Ross Clarke, directing stars Joseph Morgan and Ron Perlman.

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of Dermaphoria, from concept to financing.

I had read Craig [Clevenger]’s first novel The Contortionist’s Handbook – loved it and was interested in it as a film but at the time Leonardo DiCaprio’s company had it. So I talked to Craig’s fantastic agent Jeff Aghassi and he told me Craig was about to publish his 2nd novel – he sent me a copy – I loved it so we went to see Craig in San Francisco and my producer Teryn Fogel persuaded him to take a chance on us – she’s very persuasive and a huge part of the film from start to finish. I wrote many drafts of the screenplay and financing was tough – it’s a tricky adaptation and a niche story but it has these fantastic characters and story and eventually we got 3 different people to back us from the US and the UK.

2Q: Dermaphoria has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

Well we had a huge opening and response in London which is my home turf. But for this one it’s Craig’s home – he’s very well known and loved in the Bay Area – and in a way even though we reset Dermaphoria in New Orleans that town today has something of San Francisco or Venice Beach before gentrification took hold. So we hope it will be another home coming for the film. And then we move onto a New Orleans screening and later in the year a full release.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making Dermaphoria?

The whole thing was fantastic – I think meeting and getting to work with Ron Perlman, Walton Goggins, Craig, Kate Walsh and Joe Morgan (who worked his arse off in every scene and didn’t complain once). Ron and Walton are legends to me and they’re very generous and committed – they really owned it all. Discovering and understanding New Orleans was literally life changing. The city is magical and I wanted to put that on scree which I think we did. And all the crew there were spectacularly good and a lot of fun. The worst part was we shot in July and the heat almost killed me. It was brutal. It was a 19 day shoot and so we shot 30-35 set ups a day at 30 locations across the city. In hindsight that’s pretty stupid. But we did it but moving fast in that heat was tough for a pasty English guy. My DP was a legend – Pedro – a Uruguyan – the heat didn’t bother him – he kept us going.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

I think see this film if you love poetry and mystery and great acting. See it if you love New Orleans or if you’ve never been there see why you should. See it because Walton eats Craw fish like nobody else and Ron’s accent is fantastic. See it because Craig’s dialogue leaps off the page. See it because it’s visually an English / South American eye on a Southern American city and it’s beautiful. See it because it’s not trying to fit into a box and it wasn’t made by committee. It’s a real Indie art movie with an Indie spirit and I’m very proud of that.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for Dermaphoria. Give us your acceptance speech.

I’d just stumble and cry and thank a lot of people – and say really ? I still think Boyhood is a little better. And then I’d wonder if someone slipped them some Derma to loosen them all up to vote for us.

See DERMAPHORIA at Cinequest!
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Ellen Brodsky brings important LGBT documentary to Cinequest

Ellen Brodsky, director of The Year We Thought About Love

Ellen Brodsky, director of The Year We Thought About Love

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of The Year We Thought About Love, from concept to financing.

For 20 years I have heard incredible stories about the rehearsals of True Colors:OUT Youth Theater from Abe Rybeck, my brother-in-law who started The Theater Offensive, the host organization. I did theater in high school and always loved the risk taking that takes place in rehearsals. Later in life, when I worked with LGBTQ youth, I was impressed with the risk taking that happens in every day life. This film was a chance to watch risk taking in a safe place, a rehearsal room of a queer theater company – as well as the risk taking in performing art based on your own life in front of your peers.

2Q: The Year We Thought About Love has done quite well at other film festivals. Will you be less nervous now at Cinequest? Does this process ever get any easier?

I’ve had a blast at other festivals meeting filmmakers,seeing great films, and then connecting with audiences who each have a unique relationship to our film and the topic of LGBTQ youth. It can be challenging watching people watch your film, but also such a gift.

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making The Year We Thought About Love?

The Boston Marathon Bombing which occurred just yards from the rehearsal space was deeply upsetting for everyone involved – the cast of the theater troupe, our film crew, and the entire city.

The Best experience was when I woke up very early and a bit cranky to film the last school performance and then was thrilled to find that the school had hundreds of students in the audience, with lively reactions and thoughtful questions. It gave us the beginning and end of our film!

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

I think our film is fun, thoughtful, and deeply universal. So many of us struggle with how to be true to ourselves, and share our real selves with people we love. Here is a group of young people doing just that – with humor and attitude and a dose of fearlessness. If you are part of the LGBTQ community – you can have a blast with our film, and if you live/work/play with anyone who is queer, you will enjoy yourself as well.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for The Year We Thought About Love. Give us your acceptance speech.

Hmmm…that’s a tough one. I remember being 10 or 11 and practicing giving an Oscar speech. At that point I promised to always thank our guinea pig. I may have to re-think that promise.

See The Year We Thought About Love at Cinequest!
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San Mateo native Emily Goss stars in Cinequest film

Emily Goss plays "Jennifer" in The House on Pine Street

Emily Goss plays “Jennifer” in The House on Pine Street

Emily Goss grew up in San Mateo, where her parents still live. She started doing theatre when she was a student at Crystal Springs Uplands School and credits the San Mateo theatre community and her drama teacher, Antoinette Wrubel, for being supportive and inspiring. On Saturday night she stars in the World Premiere of The House on Pine Street at Cinquest.

1Q: Tell us how you became involved with The House on Pine Street, and how you prepared for your role.

Well, the long version is that I loved doing student films while I was studying Theatre at USC and had a lot of friends who were in the School of Cinematic Arts. In the summer of 2013, I was working on a feature with some SCA friends and Austin helped us on set for a few days. He, Aaron, and Natalie were about to start writing “The House on Pine Street” at that point. Later that fall, he cast me in a short he was directing, and I got to meet Aaron too. Then last spring, the twins and Natalie reached out, saying they were now casting “The House on Pine Street,” and asked me if I’d audition for Jennifer. I sent a taped audition to Kansas, had a call back on Skype, and got the part!

I like preparing both technically and emotionally. I read and reread the script and figure out how it all fits together. Then what isn’t in the script, I like to create – to build memories and backstories. This script was great for that because so much of the tension is buried in these people’s long histories. On top of that we got to rehearse! Aaron and Austin brought the actors together and we played and discussed the scenes prior to shooting.

2Q: Cinequest Film Festival is hosting the World Premiere of The House on Pine Street. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?

I’m so thankful that Cinequest is supporting us and giving us the opportunity to screen here. Especially since I grew up in San Mateo, the fact that the premiere is going to be here of all places is amazing. My parents and my childhood friends are going to get to see the film. My high school drama teacher might get to see it!

For some reason, I’m not too nervous to share “The House on Pine Street” with audiences, I just feel excited. Maybe it’s because I’m so proud of what we made – the cast and crew all did incredible work. I think people are going to like the film. And by “like it” I mean “get the bejeezus scared out of them.”

3Q: What was your best and/or worst experience while making The House on Pine Street?

Oh, hard to pick a “best experience”… “The House on Pine Street” is not a happy movie but making it was one of the most fun and fulfilling things I’ve ever done. Joining the team was instantly becoming part of a family. Most of us lived in The House during production. I guess the best experiences were the million little moments that make up living and working with people you care about. Someone strumming on a guitar around the corner, washing dishes before Monique finds out you ate with the prop plates, eating together around the table in the dining room, playing stupid games, celebrating birthdays, opening wine bottles with screwdrivers and hammers and nails because, while we’d forgotten a corkscrew moving in, we had plenty of power tools. It wasn’t just the cast and crew either – the communities of Leavenworth and Independence, the wonderful people who welcomed us into their homes to shoot, all the extras, they were so enthusiastic and became part of that family too. Just to wake up in a place built in 1840, make a movie all day, and go to sleep looking forward to another day just like it… what’s better than that?

Of course things went wrong too… one of the worst things? Well, the shower broke for a couple of days… part of living in an old house, right? Those were dark times.

4Q: Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

This is a bold movie. It’s not your typical horror and it’s not your typical drama. But it is a confident movie. The thing that impressed me most about Aaron, Austin, and Natalie is how thoroughly they knew the story they wanted to tell and how much they committed to that vision. They took cinematic chances and made strong, sophisticated choices. The relationships in the film are beautifully explored. The characters are not always likable but they are interesting, which I prefer. “The House on Pine Street” shows how much a small crew – and young filmmakers – can accomplish.

5Q: Time to pre-plan: You just won the Oscar for The House on Pine Street. Give us your acceptance speech.

Oh gosh. I’d thank my parents. I’d thank my family… for Everything. And the Kansas family of course – everyone involved in “The House on Pine Street.” An award for any part of this film is such a tribute to the whole. I’d thank the wonderful teachers and classmates I’ve been lucky enough to have – rehearsal buddies, self-tape buddies – everyone at USC and LAMDA, my studios in LA, the LA theatre community, other films I’ve been a part of – all these people and projects helped me and continue to every day. And I suppose I’d thank the Academy too.

See THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET at Cinequest!
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