Cinequest Film Festival (CQFF) showcases emerging and legendary artists, in a dynamic 13-day event of 200 international films with over 600 film artists, technologists, and professionals from 44 countries in attendance. Fusing the community of film lovers with film creators, the festival engages audiences in thought-provoking dialogue, giving film artists and film lovers a rare opportunity to connect. This year four films depicting Indian themes are showcased.  The films details are below.

At this year’s festival, Salman Rushdie will be honored with Maverick Spirit Award. The award is given to those who are known for “standing out from the crowd, daring to create and innovate with a personal yet global vision,” according to the festival’s announcement. “It is this spirit that sums up the best of the worlds of cinema and Silicon Valley.”Rushdie is the British Indian novelist and essayist whose fourth novel The Satanic Verses (1988) was the center of a major controversy, which provoked protests from Muslims in several countries and led to death threats against him. His latest novel, Luka and The Fire of Life, was published in November 2010. His book Joseph Anton: A Memori was published in September 2012.Throughout his career, Rushdie has embodied the spirit of the maverick, creating works he chooses, telling the truth as he sees it, always conscious of his role as an artist. The award will be presented on Cinequest’s Closing Night, Saturday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m. The other receipts this year include Harrison Ford, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club), Phil Molyneux (President and COO, Sony Electronics), and Chris Cookson (President, Sony Pictures Technologies). They will be honored with separate, special events highlighting their inspirational careers, accomplishments, and their contributions to the idea of a Maverick.

The world of cinema, fans and moviemakers comes to downtown San Jose through March 10. The films are showing at Camera 12 (C12), 201 S. Second Street, San Jose. (408) 998-3300, and at California Theatre (Cal), 345 S. First St., San Jose. (408) 295-9600.


Chittagong: Ordinary boys, extraordinary triumph.

Director: Bedabrata Pain

Set in British-occupied India of the 1930s, Chittagong is a true story about an unassuming fourteen-year-old boy, Jhunku, finding his place amongst the rampage. On the path to attend Oxford, he is betrayed by the man who is helping him and is left with the tormenting ridicule of his peers. Without thought, he joins the rebellion to prove his loyalty to the others, as well as himself. With a disorganized and untrained army of schoolboys and their leader, Masterda, they lead India to its first defeat against the British army. As the war unravels, Jhunku is forced to brave his uncertainty and battle hopeless odds. But will he be able to lead them to triumph and a victory?
Thu, 3/7; 9:30 p.m. (Camera 12 – Screen 7)Sat, 3/9; 3:45 p.m. (San Jose Repertory Theatre)


The Playback Singer: They are all works in progress.

Director: Suju Vijayan


Ray, a thirty-eight-year-old teacher turned jungle-gym architect, spends his days smoking weed and sleeping. He tells his wife, Priya (Navi Rawat, Numb3rs) that he’s “working.” But she does not see building supplies, only sketches of his yet-to-be-constructed projects. However, when her father, Ashok, moves in after years without communication, things start to change. Like Ray, Ashok, is a man lacking purpose and ignoring obligations. However, when he’s not guzzling red wine before noon, he acts as a part-time marriage counselor for the married couple. He hopes to mend the unraveling threads in both his life and theirs with his words. But he will have to confront his past mistakes and somehow motivate Ray to quickly clear the air before everything comes undone. Preceded by the short film: The One Thing; PTP film; 4 min; Unbiased and unreserved, our youth participants express the one thing they want to see change in their communities.
Fri, 3/1; 7:00 p.m. (Camera 12 – Screen 9)Sun, 3/3; 3:00 p.m. (Camera 12 – Screen 7)Tue, 3/5; 11:45 a.m. (Camera 12 – Screen 10)
Mumbai’s King (Mumbai Cha Raja): A gentle, coming-of-age fable that paints an emotional and colorful portrait of Mumbai life.

Director: Manjeet Singh

A spirited boy, Rahul spends his days skipping along the rooftops of his neighborhood. To avoid his abusive father, Rahul finds sanctuary in the streets with his streetwise friends Arbaaz and Salman. While they wander the narrow passages of the city, their story unfolds through pranks, stealing food, and following Saloni, Rahul’s crush. And while the city plans for an upcoming celebration, Rahul and his friends make plans of their own: to take revenge on his father. Director Manjeet Singh’s powerful debut captures the intricacy and exquisiteness of Mumbai through a rich observation of family life. And with the incredible help of a predominantly non-professional cast, Singh uses the city’s vibrant setting to create a poetic fable of wonder and truth. Preceded by the short film: The Missing Look; dir. Damian Dionisio; Spain; 11min; Argentina, 1976: While her family hides from the militia, a young girl is sheltered in a fantasy world.
Wed, 3/6; 12:00 p.m. (Camera 12 – Screen 10)Sat, 3/9; 12:45 p.m. (California Theatre)


Midnight’s Children

Director: Deepa Mehta

Closing Night Film and Party: The culmination of Cinequest 23 with Midnight’s Children, the momentous collaboration between director Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie.

An epic overflowing with romance, fantasy, humor, and magic, the thrilling tale begins as two children, Saleem and Shiva, are born at midnight on August 15, 1947 the same time that India claimed its independence from Great Britain. Unbeknownst to either child, they will each grow up living a life meant for the other, after a nurse impulsively switches the babies in the hospital. But their destinies are strangely intertwined and connected through the mysterious telepathic link they share not only with each other, but also with the other children born during the same hour in India.Featuring impressive set design and state-of-the-art technology to re-create the richness of India’s past, Midnight’s Children is an epic milestone of storytelling, and the close collaboration between Mehta and Rushdie reveals their tremendous love of India.

Maverick Spirit – Salman RushdieSat, 3/9; 6:00 p.m. (California Theatre)

Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor,...