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Cinequest 2005: The Garcias

...a.k.a. Cinequest: The Christopher J. Garcia Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Maverick Filmmaking Excellence. This marks Garcia's third year handing out these awards, and if any of you attended Cinequest this year and brought your family of billy goats, we apologize for any siblings Garcia may have devoured.

This year’s Cinequest was a great time, a great crowd and a great fest. I can’t say I’ve been to a better one in my five years. While there were significant differences from previous years for myself, including seeing only 3 total documentaries and having a film showing, it was still a hugely entertaining time at the movies.

Enough of that, now let’s get down to the Unofficial stuff

Best Movie Promotional Materials
Let’s start with a tie. In every introduction bag a simple bottle, exactly like a prescription pill bottle, lay among the coffee and instructions. The bottle was full of mints and was labeled to promote the film Side Effects. Producer Holly Mosher is a Cinequest veteran and knows the tricks of the trade. The other great premium had to be the duck call given out by the makers of the film Duck. Wonderful sounds of joy were made with these little calls. Sadly, I got no duck call to call my own nor a chance to see their film.

Best Celebrity Met
While I exchanged a few words with Laura “No, Jack Black didn’t come with me” Kightlinger, I did get a chance to chat with the lovely Sara Rue. Her film, Barbara Jean, was a Viewer’s Voice winner and was a good little flick. We talked about my upcoming book, Friday Night with Popcorn, which opens with a line of Sara’s from Can’t Hardly Wait.

Best Non-Film Events
Protests. Two films, The Search for The Captain and Missionary Positions, attracted protestors. Missionary Positions, the documentary about xxxchurch.com and the anti-porn crusade of two friends, was small and average. The Search for the Captain, the story of a statue that was shelved for 15 years due to protests, attracted another pair of protests. The film I produced, The Chick Magnet, showed with The Search for the Captain, and we heard that there was gonna be a protest, so we hijacked it the first time and held up signs that mocked the real political discourse. It was my best idea ever. The signs read everything from ‘Goth’ written in black on a black posterboard, to ‘I’m Not Protesting’. We were far louder than the real protest and the second round for the real protestors brought out an accordion player and a few folks to put on a little entertainment, just in case we decided to repeat our smart-assery.

Best Party
Closing Night Gala always wins this one. Lots of filmmakers, tons of people mingling, great food and lots of booze. This year had the highlight of my announcement to run for Mayor of San Jose on the platform of rebuilding the city’s legendary Light Tower.

OK, now the real movie awards...

Best Performances in a Feature Film
Patrick Warburton and Marie Matiko in The Civilization of Maxwell Bright
Patrick Warburton is the brutally sexist and abrasive Max Bright. Matiko is his Chinese Mail Order Bride. Max goes through hell and gives a performance that is not Bad Guy Made Good, but likable Bad Guy Made Real. Such a great film and two of the strongest performances I’ve seen in years.

Best Short Narrative Film
The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and his Little Friend.
Jason Winer’s film is a fantastic comedy that tells the story of a pair of friends who have incredibly different lives though they are best friends. There is also the hottest half-geek chick in it which made it even better. A beautiful comedy.

Best Comedy Film
Verflixt Verliebt.
This Swiss film is hilarious on several levels. The story is so brilliant: a guy is mistaken for a famous Argentine filmmaker and falls for an actress and then decides to make a film to get close to the actress and has another group of film students follow him making a documentary. They play with the form and make some good references along the way. Strong strong film.

Best Documentary Short
Stranger: Bernie Worrell on Earth.
Director Phil Di Fiore made a documentary about the P-Funk/Talking Heads keyboard player Worrell and it was nearly the top documentary over-all in the fest. Featuring interviews with David Byrne, Mos Def, William “Booty” Collins, and producer Bill Laswell, Stranger is an amazing tale of a guy who has changed music with his mad scientist approach to playing.

Best Drama
Norway comes through again with this story of David, an employee at a local gym who runs afoul of his bosses and the local Pakistani mob. This is brutal at times, and touching at moments. The whole film just powers through the emotions of the audience and leaves no question as to the impact that it has on the viewer. Star Aksel Hennie also directs and proves that he’s the Norwegian Orsen Welles.

Best in Fest
Accordion Tribe.
Wow. A documentary this good should be in every art house around the world. Accordion Tribe is part-Tour Film, part-love letter to the instrument. This Accordion Tribe consists of five accordion virtuosos and composers. Led by New Yorker Guy Klucevek, the five of them all have different styles and passions. The highlight is Otto Lechner. This blind Jazzbo is so deep and interesting that he takes over any time he’s in frame. Plus he’s a throat singer! The soundtrack is perfect too, as long as you can tolerate the reedy sound of the accordion. This is a wonderful film that you must see if you get the chance.  

Chris Garcia

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