De Anza represented at Cinequest

Jim Blank, Reporter

Three De Anza alumni have been selected to participate in San Jose’s annual film festival, Cinequest.

Two of them submitted films. The third is a former award winner who will be judging feature documentaries.

Cinequest displays films by both renowned and emerging artists.

The event also showcases cutting-edge technology, enabling global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences.

Alumnus Matt Szymanowski, submitted his film titled “The Purple Onion.”

Szymanowski studied film at De Anza from 2001-2003, taking classes from Susan Tavernetti and Zaki Lisha, both of whom still teach at De Anza.

“They were key inspiring figures in my filmmaking pursuits,” Szymanowski said.

“The Purple Onion,” named after a historical club in San Francisco, is the story of a comedian who has an unexpected guest suddenly move in with him.

The guest is a motherly figure but ends up being the object of Johnny’s  repressed sexual fixations.

“Cinequest has allowed us to do test screenings of our unfinished film,” Szymanowski said. “After each screening, we’ll gauge audience reactions by having them fill out a questionnaire. We’ll see what works and what doesn’t.  And what we hear will likely influence how the film turns out.”

“The Purple Onion” will play at San Jose Repertory Theatre on March 9 at 7:15 p.m., March 11 at 7:00 p.m. and March 15 at 9:15 p.m.

Michael Libunao another De Anza alumnus with a submission at Cinequest, submitted the short film, “Hallelujah.”

The movie is about a man who “tries to divert his mind from the mystery that lies behind the closed door, but the cacophony of his surroundings only serve to drive him to more of a frenzy.”

“Hallelujah” can be viewed March 11 at 1:30 p.m., March 12 at 9:30 p.m. and March 14 at 9:15 p.m.

Kurt Kuenne, a Cinequest veteran, has been involved with over eleven films submitted to Cinequest this year.

This year, Kuenne will be a juror for feature documentary films.

He will watch all of the documentary films, confer with his fellow jurors and select a winner.

Kuenne won several awards in the past at Cinequest.

He was awarded the New Visions title at Cinequest 2012 for his film “Shuffle,” and won both Jury and Audience awards for his feature documentary, “Dear Zachary” in 2008.

“I think De Anza students are extremely lucky to have Cinequest, a world-class festival that has now endured for 24 years, right in their backyard,” Kuenne said. “There are films playing there from all over the world that they’ll never have a chance to see anywhere else, often with the filmmakers in attendance to give insight into the making of the film.”

De Anza students should catch a few flick at Cinequest and support De Anza alumni by watching their hard work on the silver screen.