Cinequest was 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. Cinequest is currently accepting submissions for films completed between 2018 and 2020 or works-in-progress that will be completed by March 2021.

"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 Film & Creativity Festival (CQFF) in San Jose / Silicon Valley: Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn, 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, James Franco, 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.

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, 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.

Also, 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.

"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)

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.

“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 Driver, Jonathan Pryce)
Hotel Mumbai (dir. Anthony Mara; starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel)
The Public (dir. Emilio Estevez; starring Emilio Estevez, Alec Baldwin, 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 (dir. Elizabeth Chomko; starring Hilary Swank, Michael Shannon)
The Humanity Bureau VR (starring Nicolas Cage)

I Love You Both, dir. Doug Archibald (narrative, Magnolia Pictures)
East Side Sushi, dir. Anthony Lucero (narrative, Sony Pictures)
Auggie, dir. Matt Kane (narrative, Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Midnight Clear, dir. Dallas Jenkins (narrative, Lionsgate)
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)
Temps, dir. Ryan Sage (narrative, FilmBuff)
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 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.


SCREENINGS: If selected, filmmaker authorizes Cinequest to conduct up to four (4) theatrical screenings during the Cinequest Film & VR Festival.

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 following categories, you need only submit ONCE. The programming team will consider your project for any category for which is qualifies. You do not need to pay more than one fee to submit to multiple categories.
Comedy Feature Competition * Dramatic Feature Competition * Thriller, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror Competition * New Visions Competition * Global Landscapes Competition * Documentary Feature Competition * Films for Families

Narrative and Documentary Short Films:
Short Film Competition * College Short Film Competition * High School Film Competition * Films for Families

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

PLEASE NOTE: All films qualify for Audience Awards.

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)

FILM FORMATS AND SHIPMENT: Filmmaker must provide one of the following screening formats for the Cinequest festival screening:

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
  • Baldwin Chiu

    Wow! 2020...the Best and Worst! Our film, Far East Deep South, had it's world premiere at Cinequest. Two nearly full theaters that first week LIVE! What a great experience! But then COVID shutdown and we looked forward to reopening in Aug, but things didn't get better...then Sept...then Oct. Cinequest used their time to go virtual. Communication was open and there is no standardized way to do film festivals virtually, but they did it anyways and constantly sought comments to get better and make fixes. How do you put less than a 5 on dedication when most would just say "forget it....see you when life returns"? We were so honored to still win the Documentary Audience award as well! I hope next year goes back to normal.

    October 2020
  • John Jannone

    We were so pleased to show our film Small Time at Cinequest. Despite the Covid insanity, the festival managed a first half in person and will continue the second half online. Really great communication from the organizers, they treat their filmmakers so well and provide a thoughtful and attentive audience. Michael Rabehl, the wonderful and wacky fest programmer was super supportive of our film and was a great networking facilitator at the many networking events/parties.

    August 2020
  • I've had several films play at Cinequest over the years and I've attended a number of times in person. I think it's my favorite festival that I've ever attended! As a filmmaker, you're treated wonderfully. They do an amazing job at facilitating great parties at which you have tons of opportunities to meet all kinds of awesome people--not just other filmmakers, though I think they do a ridiculously good job of making sure filmmakers have the chance to connect with one another. The slate is always just great. It's broad enough that I'm always able to see a bunch of really cool films. I do wish the shorts programs were still exclusively downtown and not in Redwood City as I love being able to just ensconce myself in a hotel downtown and not go anywhere other than movies and parties (all by foot) when I'm in attendance. Still, it's an awesome festival experience. The only good thing about this year's edition ending early is that I might be able to go in person to the second half in August! Money is certainly not finite so you have to pick and choose what festivals to attend when you have a film on the circuit, but I would say Cinequest is definitely on the can't miss list!

    April 2020
  • Lisa Stock

    So honored to be a part of this amazing festival! The staff is top-notch, welcoming and friendly - from the acceptance letter to meeting them in person. The venues are great and the audience was lovely. I also really enjoyed all the filmmaker/artist events - one every night at a different, wonderful spot. Though it was cut short due to Covid-19, they handled the postponement with class and ever since have made me feel like I'm still part of the family and have been getting us all excited for August. Thank you!

    March 2020
  • Stephen Mills

    CQ: here’s to you! What a great feeling to be going to CQ. To be having your World Premiere at CQ. To have cast and crew members coming to the different showings in support of their film at CQ. To be in the catalogue at CQ. To walk the Red Carpet at CQ. To go to the restaurants and bars to meet volunteers and filmmakers at CQ. To have Q&A’s at CQ. To see other films at CQ. To marvel at the California Theatre at CQ. To see the Team who supports and innovates the festival itself at CQ.
    Really, it’s like getting into the college you wanted. It’s a world of all your wishes and you are invited to join. A world of exhibition and inspiration. A place to show what you have done and to catch fire on what you’ll do next. A place that attracts many nations but speaks one language: the language of creating. No need to prove yourself. The proof is on the screen. If making your film was the “here and now”, then CQ is the hereafter. And this was only the first week! August—the time of return.
    Stephen Keep Mills, writer/director Love is not Love

    March 2020