For 25 years Kathleen Powell and Halfdan Hussey, co-founders of Cinequest Film Festival have worked hard to bring this unique festival that combines films and technology under one roof in the heart of Silicon Valley. Besides well-known filmmakers and actors, the festival features emerging artists and filmmakers and shines a strong spotlight on the contributions of youth through their “Picture The Possibilities” program. And then there is the technology dimension to the festival, where new tech and digital tools for filmmakers are highlighted. For example, Apple’s Quicktime was first shown at Cinequest.
Powell is a computer scientist by training, who worked in Silicon Valley’s tech industry. We were intrigued. How did a math whizz studying computer science became involved with films, and keep it going? How did she juggle her work in the tech industry along with her work with the film festival?
While she was in graduate school Powell got involved in producing a film that premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Inspired by the festival Powell and Hussey decided to work on bringing a similar film festival to Silicon Valley and that is how it all began. The festival has grown from a 3 day event to a 13 day event filled with films, talks, meet-ups and parties.
We sat down with Powell to find out about the highlights of this year’s Cinequest film festival and about her involvement with films and how it all began, and how they handle the challenges of hosting such a festival.
The opening night film was “Batkid Begins” by local bay area filmmaker Dana Nachman. The closing night film is Victor Levin’s “5 to 7.” Sandwiched between the two films are a number of new feature films, shorts and documentaries.
Guests featured in this year’s festival include Lawrence Kasadan (Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Arc and The Big Chill), actress Rosario Dawson, filmmaker John Boorman, film critic Anne Thompson, writer Dennis Lehane and filmmaker and Mike Medavoy.
“The Power of Creating” is the theme for this year’s festival that runs from Feb 24-Mar 8, 2015. Visit their website for tickets and more information about the festival.
This interview was aired on local San Francisco bay area TV.