Cinequest has been voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers. Cinequest programs 85-90% of its festival from paid submissions annually, one of the highest percentages of the world's most influential film festivals.

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it's definitely the first time I've ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, 'What do I have to do to be invited back?' and that's not normally my reaction. It's a perfect film festival in a glorious place." - Neil Gaiman, Maverick Spirit Award Winner

Cinequest connects artists, innovators, media, and audiences—as people converge to experience a potent mix of immersive stories from around the globe and breakthrough technologies. Yet, Cinequest’s stellar reputation not only hinges on its knack for creating a powerful line-up, but also for securing distribution for many of its honored filmmakers. Netflix, IFC Films, Amazon, MSNBC Films, Roadside Attractions, 1091 Pictures, Oscilloscope, Sony Pictures, Magnolia Pictures, Kino-Lorber, eOne, Lionsgate, PBS, and HBO are just a few of the many that have signed deals with some of Cinequest's success stories.

As an Academy-qualifying festival for the short film categories, Cinequest is proud to honor the winners of its Best Short Narrative and Best Short Animation prizes with a shot at every filmmaker's dream...Oscar gold.

Exhibiting unique social and artistic visions from around the globe, Cinequest’s dynamic festival engages audiences in thought-provoking dialogue, giving film artists and film lovers alike an opportunity to connect. Furthermore, Cinequest provides cutting edge technology and movie-making forums to empower professionals and students.

Cinequest Film & VR Festival (CQFF) will occur both In-person San Jose/Silicon Valley and Globally via its proprietary Virtual platform. Cinequest has been a leader in building community, audiences, and opportunity for film and filmed media via groundbreaking tech and paradigms for decades and will continue the golden combination of in-person and online post pandemic.

Organizationally set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Zoom, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn, Cisco, Occulus etc.) CQFF showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences. CQFF has led the world in its showcase and implementation of the technologies that have revolutionized film making, exhibition and distribution.

CQFF’s blend of the artist and innovator gains focus through its Maverick Awards. Its Maverick Spirit Awards recognizes artists (Harrison Ford, Nicolas Cage, Elle Fanning, J.J. Abrams, Tatiana Maslany, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bill Nighy, Sir Ben Kingsley, Rosario Dawson, Spike Lee, Sam Neill, Eddie Izzard, Gemma Arterton, Neil Gaiman, and Sir Ian McKellen are among the guest recipients). Its Maverick Innovator Award recognizes technologists (including Martin Cooper, father of the cell phone, and Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple Inc.). A Maverick stands apart from the crowd willing to create and innovate from a place of personal yet global vision.

"This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time."-- Chris Gore (Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide)

“What unites them all under the festival’s big tent is clear: Being a part of Cinequest is not to follow industry trends, but to witness the moment they’re being set.”-- MovieMaker (Max Weinstein)

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (dir. Terry Gilliam; starring Adam Drive)
Hotel Mumbai (dir. Anthony Mara; starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel)
The Public (dir. Emilio Estevez; starring Jena Malone)
Teen Spirit (dir. Max Minghella; starring Elle Fanning)
Beirut (dir. Brad Anderson; starring Rosamund Pike, Jon Hamm)
Borg/McEnroe (dir. Janus Metz; starring Shia LeBeouf)
Krystal (dir. William H Macy; starring Nick Robinson, Rosario Dawson)
Submergence (dir. Wim Wenders; starring James McAvoy)
What They Had (starring Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon)
The Humanity Bureau VR (starring Nicolas Cage)
Six Minutes to Midnight (starring Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench)
Rams (dir. Jeremy Sims; starring Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson)

I Love You Both, dir. Doug Archibald (narrative, Magnolia Pictures)
East Side Sushi, dir. Anthony Lucero (narrative, Sony Pictures)
This Is Not a War Story, dir. Talia Lugacy (narrative, HBO)
Auggie, dir. Matt Kane (narrative, Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Midnight Clear, dir. Dallas Jenkins (narrative, Lionsgate)
Before the Fire, dir. Charlie Buhler (narrative, Showtime)
Beneath the Banyan Tree, dir. Nani Li Yang (narrative, Freestyle Digital)
Adventures in Success, dir. Jay Buim (narrative, Utopia Distribution)
Fixed, dir. Alonso Mayo (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
Witch Hunt, dir. Don Hardy, Dana Nachman (documentary, MSNBC Films)
Mine 9, dir. Eddie Mensore (narrative, Raven Banner Entertainment)
Every Time I Die, dir. Robi Michael (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff, dir. Mitch Altieri (narrative, Indican Pictures)
Dear Zachary, dir. Kurt Kuenne (documentary, Oscilloscope Pictures)
Impossible Monsters, dir. Nathan Catucci (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
Buddy Solitaire, dir. Kuang Lee (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
Dependent’s Day, dir. Michael David Lynch (narrative, Freestyle Digital)
Lost Solace, dir. Chris Scheuerman (narrative, Raven Banner Entertainment)
Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends, dir. Quincy Rose (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
Search Engines, dir. Russell Brown narrative, (Indican Pictures)
ToY, dir. Patrick Chapman (narrative, Gravitas Ventures)
Wake, dir. Ellie Kanner (narrative, E1 Entertainment)
Blood Car, dir. Alex Orr (narrative, TLA Releasing)
Love in the Time of Monsters (narrative, Indican Pictures)
The Skeptic, dir. Tennyson Bardwell (narrative, IFC Films)
On the Doll, dir. Thomas Mignone (narrative, Peace Arch)
El Camino, dir. Erik Weigel (narrative, Lifesize Entertainment)
Family Inc, dir. Emily Ting (documentary, Seventh Art Releasing)
Monster Camp, dir. Cullen Hoback (documentary, Lifesize Entertainment)
Critical Condition, dir. Roger Weisberg (documentary, PBS)
The Nature of Existence, dir. Roger Nygard (documentary, Walking Shadows)
The Brainwashing of My Dad, dir. Jen Senko (documentary, Gravitas Ventures)
The Truth About Marriage, dir. Roger Nygard (documentary, Gravitas Ventures)
God Knows Where I Am, dir. Jed Wider, Todd Wider (documentary, BOND360)
Bel Borba Aqui, dirs. Burt Sun, Andre Costantini (documentary, Oscilloscope)

Festival Awards include:
* Best Feature Film: Drama
* Best Feature Film: Comedy
* Best Documentary Feature
* Best Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror Feature Award
* Visionary Award (for the New Visions category)
* Global Vision Award
* Audience Award for Feature Narrative
* Audience Award for Feature Documentary
* Best Short Narrative Film
* Best Short Animated Film
* Best Short Documentary Film
* Best College Short Film
* Best High School Film
* Best Family Short
* Best Television Episode or Webisode
* Best Music Video
* Virtual & Augmented Reality Awards (see VR section for more information)

REGULATIONS & REQUIREMENTS: Cinequest continues to present and discover hundreds of international films and filmmakers. This prestigious event gives emerging filmmakers an opportunity to gain the recognition necessary to launch distribution and promotional campaigns.

FESTIVAL SECTIONS: By submitting to Cinequest, filmmakers will be submitting for consideration to all of the following sections for which their film qualifies with ONE submission fee:

Narrative and Documentary Feature Films:
If submitting to any of the feature film categories, you need only submit to ONE category. The programming team will consider your project for any category for which it qualifies. You do not need to pay more than one fee to submit, as the features team watches all films in all feature film categories.

Narrative and Documentary Short Films:
If submitting to any of the short film categories, you need only submit to ONE category (except for the Student Film Competition and Films for Families, which are separate teams). The programming team will consider your project for any category for which it qualifies. You do not need to pay more than one fee to submit, unless you are submitting to Student Film Competition or Films for Families, PLUS one of the other short film categories.

Narrative and Documentary Virtual Reality Projects (all lengths):
Virtual Reality Competition and Awards

Narrative and Documentary Television or Webisodes:
Television Episode / Webisode Competitions (Long Form or Short Form)

Music Videos:
Music Video Competition

* All films qualify for Audience Awards.
* WORKS IN PROGRESS are welcomed.

MARKETING AND PUBLICITY: Cinequest’s publicity and marketing teams will craft a specific promotional campaign for the film program. To assist in this campaign, filmmakers will be responsible for providing the following materials by January deadlines to Cinequest, if selected to participate:
* Digital images
* EPKs
* Secure Online Screener of their film, for media
* Trailers and film clips
* Any other marketing materials you wish to be used to promote your film (NOTE: The publicity team will send a more specific list once films are selected)

If a film is selected, the participating filmmakers will be responsible for covering the costs of the shipment of the film to Cinequest. Cinequest will cover the return shipment costs to the filmmaker. If a film is being shipped to another festival, the receiving festival must pay for shipping.

VR FORMATS: VR submissions must work on either the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, or HTC Vive. If your submission is not compatible with the Rift, Gear VR, Vive OR additional technology is needed, please email ( additional information about your submission so we can determine if we will be able to accommodate for consideration.

* VR Application for Interactive VR: Please provide Cinequest with a link to your mobile (.apk) or PC installation package via the submission form. If your application is already in the Oculus Store, please provide a link to the application located in the Oculus Store.
* 360° Video: Provide Cinequest with a link to your 360° file via the submission form. The following video and audio file types are supported:
**Video File Types: .mp4, .m4v, .3gp, .webm, .mkv, .wmv, .asf, .avi, and .flv
**Audio File Types: .mp3, and .aac
*VR File Upload Instructions: If you do not have a link to your mobile or PC installation package, and would rather securely upload your Interactive VR or 360° Video to Cinequest, please do the following:
** Finish your submission and write down the Tracking Number that is assigned to your submission. Please properly label your file using your Tracking Number; Example for VR Application: F30-1234.apk or F30-1234.apk; Example for 360° Video: F30-1234_360.mp4 or F30-1234_360.mp4
** Upload your file to us using our secure MediaFire File Drop (

RELEASE: Cinequest (San Jose) is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless Cinequest Film Festival (San Jose) from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Zahra Shahhatami

    We highly recommend the Cinequest Film Festival. An incredible event with so much to offer. The hospitality of the festival team and the fact that everything was well-organized was impressive. The friendly, supportive and attentive staff, plus the incredible Programming Director made it such a delight.
    We cannot say enough good things about this outstanding film festival! A fantastic Festival overall!

    October 2023
  • Anna Fahr

    I recently premiered my debut narrative feature, Valley of Exile, at Cinequest. The festival is very filmmaker focused, the staff and organizers were super friendly and accessible and went above and beyond to ensure we got the most out of our experience. Michael, the Programming Director, is a true cinephile and took every opportunity to champion and promote our film in the lead up to the premiere. He's also really approachable and down to earth, as was the rest of the staff. Overall, I really enjoyed my experience attending this festival, meeting other filmmakers and seeing some incredible films. The cherry on top was winning the award for Best Feature Drama. :) I really hope to come back one day with future work!

    October 2023
  • Sarah Holland

    My debut feature had its World Premiere at Cinequest. The Programming Director, Michael, is the nicest guy and truly has filmmakers' best interest at heart. While I wasn't able to attend the festival due to illness, my producer went and had a great time. Super appreciate the publicity efforts put forth by the festival team -- we got a great article in the local newspaper out of the experience. Not only that, but we received our very first Jury Award as well! Thank you, Cinequest!

    October 2023
  • Darren Rae

    Cinequest was one of the first film festivals I was ever accepted to and 10 years later, I still consider it to be one of my favorites.

    I have had an amazing experience every year that I've attended, from the artist meet-ups, to the incredible films, I recommend everyone to apply to this festival.

    October 2023
  • Clara Lehmann

    We've been to Cinequest several times over the course of our career and it's always been an exciting, prestigious event. We played a film there in 2011 and most recently in 2023.

    The staff has remained consistent over this period of time and is always kind, generous, and genuinely interested in film. It's comforting to have the same contacts always there for you as an artist, especially in an ever-changing industry.

    In previous experiences the audiences were always huge and theaters filled. This year, the first time back after COVID, saw less patronage but was still bustling with energy and excitement for the movies. The audiences were engaged and asked great questions after every film. In fact, Cinequest has some of the best Q&As we've experienced. The moderators CARE about the film, they actually watch each one to have deeper questions and conversations (not always the case at other festivals), and even work to include all crew/cast present. They are gems.

    Also, and this is not an exaggeration, the theater our film played at had the largest, most beautiful screen and the best sound out of any theater we've ever been to, let alone any festival. What a great way to honor independent film than to show these movies at their full glory.

    October 2023