Student directed films showcase talent at Cinequest film festival


Miles Voci

California Theater in Downtown San Jose prior to closing night screening, March 17, 2019

Miles Voci
Zheng Yuan, director of “When An Egg Meets A Tomato,” March 17, 2019, Cinequest Film Festival

Former student Zheng Yuan adds a fresh take on Chinese cuisine and heartbreak with his short film “When an Egg Meets a Tomato,” directed and produced during his time at De Anza College.

Yuan’s short film narrates a poem connecting the traditional Chinese platter of eggs and tomato to the end of a relationship with drama and comedy.

Yuan plays a lonely man who reminisces about his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, comparing their love to that of an egg and a tomato, questioning if they were ingredients to a perfect dish.

“I wanted the humor to be more subtle, and find something in between,” Yuan said. “Watching my film at home alone could highlight the drama and sadness more, but it depends. People’s perception of film changes.”

Jonathan Fung, a professor at San Jose State University who previously worked for Cinequest as part of the Short Film Program, praised Yuan’s film.

“It was one of my favorite student shorts. It’s refreshing, clever, unexpected and almost absurd,” Fung said. He praised Yuan’s peculiar story and simplistic approach.

Yuan studied film for two years and praised De Anza’s film department. “For a film major, De Anza has everything you need,” he said. “Professors definitely prepared me well.”

Miles Voci
Floor level of the California Theater prior to closing night screening, March 17, 2019

Yuan’s film was featured at this year’s Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival, a 12-day festival showcasing independent student films, where over 90 national and international films premiered.

The Cinequest Student Short Program showcased 14 films directed by high school and college students.

Terry Gascay, a San Jose resident who has attended the last five Cinequest festivals, said the student shorts stood out more this year than in previous years.

Student director Bismark Fernandez said that creating his first stop-motion short, “Expend,” required him to take on new responsibilities, such as lighting, fabricating, designing sets and leading a film team.

The Student Short Program’s showcase began with a screening of “Atlas Liquors,” directed by Adam Geiser, a 17-year-old director attending Oakland School for the Arts.  The film depicts a doctor who buys alcohol for a minor after work, only for the doctor to find the minor in his hospital the next day.

“A lot of my films have that undertone,” said Geiser. He described his group of friends as “reckless” and said he ultimately “wants them to be safe.”

Geiser said Cinequest gave him a “big confidence boost,” which helped him work with other filmmakers and actors.