In Downtown San Jose, deals were signed, friends were made and oceans of Stella Artois were navigated by filmmakers, journalists and fans. Some 95,000 attendees turned out for Cinequest this year. The local winner among the films in competition was former De Anza film student Kurt Kuenne. Kuenne's 2008 documentary Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father was an international success story. His new feature film, Shuffle, about a photographer mysteriously unstuck in time, won the New Visions award.
If there was a theme besides Neverending Passion, it was the large number of awards for films about people with disabilities. A festival favorite was Jesse Vile's documentary about a paralyzed Richmond, Calif., musician in Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet. It won the Special Jury Prize for Documentary and the Audience Award: Best Documentary Feature. The Best Documentary-winning short Everything Is Incredible by Tyler Bastian, Trevor Hill and Tim Skousen concerns a polio-stricken Honduran man who has been building a helicopter for decades.
The Best Feature Film: Comedy award went to Belgium's Come As You Are—an unlikely mix of the virginity-losing road trip film and a story of the terminally ill and differently abled. And the winner for Best Narrative Short winner was Brian Lannin's excellent And Winter Slow, concerning the plight of a woman facing another snow-bound winter with her moribund, bedridden husband.
Among the foreign films honored at this year's Cinequest were Norway's King Curling, which took the Audience Award for Best Feature. Bence Miklauzic's Children of the Green Dragon won Best Feature Film: Drama. Seattlite Taylor Guterson's Old Goats won the Special Jury Prize: Narrative Feature. Best Documentary Feature went to Agnes Sos, the Hungarian director of Invisible Strings: The Talented Pusker Sisters, concerning the love and rivalry between sibling violinists.
Omaha scriptwriter Travis Heermann won the screenplay competition for his unproduced horror-western Death Wind. A festival first was the awarding of a Maverick Ensemble Award, which went to Kat Coiro and Krysten Ritter for L!fe Happens. Other Maverick Spirit awards winners this year were Elliott Gould, Philip Kaufman and Terence Davies. Davies, whose first-rate Deep Blue Sea closed the festival, was particularly jazzed at his chance to see San Jose for the first time: "It sounds so romantic!" he told Metro.