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U.S. Festival: Director Gregory Nava and producer Barbara Martinez Jitner at work on 'The American Tapestry,' which receives its premiere at Cinequest.

Cinequest Time

San Jose's annual film festival arrives Feb. 24 bearing premieres, tributes, indies and documentaries

By Richard von Busack

IN THE LAST-MINUTE stages of preparing the 10th-annual Cinequest, the film festival's directors face not just their biggest festival but their most crisis-prone one yet. Weeks before opening, the festival's management received two pieces of bad news. First, Cinequest was denied an expected $50,000 grant from the city of San Jose. Next, the UA Pavilion closed. It was no secret that the UA Pavilion's days were numbered, but Cinequest's management had hopes of using the theater for the duration of the festival. Few expected the tornadolike clearing out of projectors and seats when the Pavilion's end came this month. To compensate for the sudden lack of a major venue, Cinequest's management is lengthening the festival by several days (Feb. 24-Mar. 5). Cinequest is also renting more screens at the Camera Cinemas, the Towne and the AMC Saratoga--with an as yet to be announced system of shuttles to cover the more than five miles between downtown San Jose and the suburbs.

The opening-night feature on Feb. 24 is The Big Kahuna, a drama about traveling salesmen in Wichita. Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito co-star in this maiden effort by Chicago theatrical director John Swanbeck. This year's headlining guests include actors Alec Baldwin and Peter Fonda. Cinequest will also host a tribute to director Robert M. Young, the politically active independent filmmaker who directed Extremities, Alambrista! and Nothing but a Man (reputedly Malcolm X's favorite movie). The American Tapestry, the newest film by Gregory Nava (El Norte), will be premiered. Dario Argento, the profoundly grisly but undeniably poetic Italian horror film director, will be honored, as will director Wes Craven, whose Scream 3 has just been released. Audiences will also get an advance look at Mexico!, an IMAX travelogue. A technology showcase demonstrating the latest in digital projection and sound closes Cinequest on March 3, 4 and 5.

Local films on the schedule include Pam Walton's Call to Witness, a documentary about gay people in the clergy; A Sting of Chance, Babak Sarrafan's feature about the child of Iranian immigrants facing life in San Jose; and Dumbarton Bridge, the story of a lonely man struggling with his memories as he works at the East Bay salt-flats. Dates and the full schedule of the film festival will be announced later this week. (A complete festival program appears in this issue of Metro, which is one of the sponsors of Cinequest.)

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From the January 27-February 2, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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