Eighth outing boasts diverse guests, pics

SAN JOSE — For its eighth year, Cinequest — the San Jose Film Festival — has again come up with an eclectic mix of indies, international pics, cult items, tributes and offbeat sidebars. Event runs Jan. 29-Feb. 4, primarily at the downtown United Arts Pavilion 8 complex.

This upstart among Bay Area annual fests has steadily managed to pull in heavyweight guests, and ’98 is no exception. In addition to a special Jan. 31 “Conversation With Kevin Spacey,” in-person tributes will pay homage to directors Barry Sonnenfeld and John Schlesinger, as well as editor Walter Murch and composer Elmer Bernstein.

Latter’s classic jazz score for the 1955 “The Man With the Golden Arm” will be the official closing-night selection. Opener on the 29th is the new docu “Trekkies.”

For the second year, various U.S., West Coast and San Jose preems will be screened in competing categories (best dramatic feature, documentary, first feature, short and Maverick Spirit), judged by two panels of industry pros, including thesp Sally Kirkland, cult helmer Paul Bartel and vid producer Pam Walton.

Other highlights include a Latino film celebration and gay-oriented “Out Fest,” as well as various tech-oriented events (repping work by Jim Henson Creature Shop, Pixar, Dolby Laboratories and Pacific Data Imaging) apt for this Silicon Valley region. In addition, a “Produced and Abandoned” sidebar revives movies that faltered at the box office by directors Walter Hill, Philip Kaufman and Ron Shelton.

The “After Hours” series will once again explore cinema’s raunchier corners, from a director’s cut of the 1978 gorefest “Bloodsucking Freaks” to docmeister Chuck Workman’s new porn history, “The Story of X.”

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