Cinequest 21 Opening Night Soiree and Film Preview of "Passione"


San Jose, CA. March 1, 2011.

Oh, what a night! Cinequest 21 film festival opening night, that is.  A bit of Hollywood was in the air as the red carpet was rolled out for moviegoers and movie-makers alike on this night of glitz, glamour and passsione. Held at the historic California Theater in downtown San Jose, Cinequest kicked off its 21st year of featuring unforgettable films, magnificent filmmakers and holding film forums that include local talent as well as cinematic brilliance from all over the world.

Prior to the film preview, actor, screenwriter and director John Turturro was inside the theater lobby answering questions posed by an eager press about his directorial debut of the film, “Passione.” As an accomplished and respected actor, it was obvious that everyone was excited about seeing his true passion unveiled on screen.

As movie patrons slowly but eagerly made their way into the theater, they were welcomed by the sounds of an organ player playing movie theme songs in old Hollywood form; a perfect soundtrack to the beginning of a majestic evening.

Preceding the film preview of “Passione,” Halfdan Hussey, director and co-founder of Cinequest, and Mayor of San Jose, Chuck Reed, welcomed guests to the first night of the 13-day long event. However, the reception did not end there. In the spirit of Silicon Valley and its forte for invention and innovation, Sean Maloney, executive vice president and co-general manager of Intel Corporation’s Intel Architecture Group (IAG), and Martin Cooper, former vice president of Motorola and the engineer who lead the team that developed the first handheld mobile phone in the 1970’s, also welcomed patrons to the city where technology and creativity reign as king.

Halfdan Hussey, director and co-founder of Cinequest

Chuck Reed, Mayor of San Jose, CA

Sean Maloney, executive vice president and co-general manager of Intel Corps. Intel Architecture Group

Martin Cooper, former vice president of Motorola

As the lights slowly dimmed and the curtain opened to reveal a movie screen, the audience clapped with enthusiasm as they prepared to take a trip to Italy via John Turturro’s vision of a musical adventure.

“Passione” was a unique film about the passionate love affair that the Neapolitans have with the heartfelt music their culture has created throughout the years. Just as natural as breathing is to the human race, so is the Neapolitans’ instinct to sing and dance when the moment hits them.

This film was unique in the sense that it was three films in one. First, a documentary-style picture depicting the passion and love that the people of Naples have for their culture and their music. Second, a historical piece about the influences of Italian singers and the development of their song style throughout the centuries. And third, a natural musical where the historic ruins of Naples and the surrounding terrain was the stage for all Neapolitans to sing Italian love songs and reveal stories of love and betrayal while at the same time dancing to their soul’s content.

In complimenting his eclectic cast, Turturro stated, “When people are that talented, they are their own special effects.” A statement that was quite evident as the spirit of the Neapolitans revealed itself through their music.

For anyone who has an affinity for rich culture accompanied by a deep passion for music that stirs the soul, “Passione” is a film that will surely make you feel like running out and singing in the streets. What an amazing feeling that would be!

Following the film, Turturro was welcomed on to the stage to receive the Maverick Spirit Award and to talk a bit more about his inspiration behind the making of his film. He enthusiastically explained how, as an Italian-American, he wanted to share a glimpse of his culture and “his world,” as he put it, with a greater audience. It was evident by the audience’s positive response, that they truly enjoyed and appreciated the film for its artistic ambiance and style.

After the film preview, patrons were welcomed to party the night away at Eulipia Restaurant and Bar and The Swinging Hookah in downtown San Jose.  There, they had the opportunity to discuss the film, meet John Turturro and take photos with him, and meet and mingle with fellow movie-lovers. A fun ending to an extraordinary evening.

Cinequest 21 opening night was a great start to an even greater two-week film odyssey.

For more information about the film festival or to purchase tickets, please visit:

Event coverage and photos by Sophia M. Papadopoulos

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