May 30, 2024
City View Plaza makes for an amazing party space, as Silicon Valley's film festival opens with Jennifer Esposito's "Fresh Kills."

Cinequest leaned into this year’s theme, “Energized,” with Tuesday’s opening night festivities, which included a party at a surprising venue — City View Plaza in downtown San Jose.

It was there you could hear plenty of chatter and discussion about the opening night film, “Fresh Kills.” The film was written and directed by Jennifer Esposito, who also stars in the movie about the women — wives, daughters and sisters — who suffer the collateral damage of being part of a mob family. The audience at the nearly-packed California Theatre were enthusiastic about the compelling drama.

“You don’t get this sitting on your couch watching Netflix,” Cinequest co-founder and festival director Halfdan Hussey said. “The human connection is so vital.”

In a discussion after the movie, Esposito said she was thrilled with the audience reaction to the movie, the making of which she described as “brutal.” She agreed with the notion offered by moderator Jeff Klaben that women filmmakers in Hollywood are treated with as much disregard as they are by the Mafia. To make her dream project, she had to mortgage her house twice and raised money with NFTs because, she said, Hollywood had no interest in funding a movie about women made by women. Women who run Silicon Valley startups can relate, I’m sure.

After her interviews on the California’s red carpet, Esposito stopped by the Continental bar next door and made her way after the screening to the opening party at City View Plaza, where she took photos with fan after fan.

Moderator Jeff Klaben, left, interviews Jennifer Esposito about her film “Fresh Kills,” a film she wrote, directed and stars in that opened the Cinequest film festival at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Filmmakers and VIPs walk the red carpet at the California Theatre on the first day of the Cinequest film festival in downtown San Jose on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

“Fresh Kills” director Jennifer Esposito, second from right, and producer Leslie Owen, right, talk to fans at the opening night party of the Cinequest film festival in downtown San Jose on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

City View Plaza in downtown San Jose was transformed into an outdoor event venue for the opening night party of the Cinequest film festival in downtown San Jose on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)


Cinequest co-founder and festival director Halfdan Hussey at the ShowPlace ICON movie theater in Mountain View on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Following a week in San Jose, the Silicon Valley film festival will take place at the theater Aug. 24-28. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)



It was quite a revival for the Market Street office park, which is being redeveloped by Jay Paul Co. Tuesday night, it was transformed into a chic outdoor event space for Silicon Valley’s annual lovefest for independent movies. The office buildings surrounding the courtyard were illuminated with geometric shapes and the Cinequest logo, as festivalgoers mingled around food stations and sipped J. Lohr wine. Even the courtyard’s signature circular fountain, which had been dry and dormant for three years, was brought back to life (at no small expense to Jay Paul, I’m sure) and illuminated by red and blue spotlights.

Honestly, given the likelihood that it’ll be quite some time until Jay Paul Co. can continue its redevelopment project, this would be a fabulous temporary use for the parcel. With San Jose’s normally great weather, it could host outdoor corporate parties, community festivals and other special events throughout most of the year.

City View will be the location for Cinequest’s next big party following the world premiere of “Breakwater,” starring Dermot Mulroney, on Aug. 19, so you should get tickets to that screening and the after-party at if you want to check it out.

RESTORED LIMOUSINES: After a decadelong hiatus, the Limousines are returning to the stage at Music in the Park on Friday, as one of the opening acts before headliner CeeLo Green at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. If you’ve been wondering what vocalist Eric Victorino has been up to during the band’s absence, you might have been surprised to find him at San Jose City Hall.

He’s been working on San Jose City Councilmember David Cohen’s team, where he probably didn’t have too many reasons to break into song. Victorino said he “retired” from music a few years ago to focus on his family and get his career in government started. But his wife’s grandfather, Wayne Osborne, died this year and Victorino was inspired to return to the stage.

“Grandpa was an incredible Country & Western singer. He was big in the Bay Area music scene back in the day, and right up until his death he proudly embraced his musical past,” Victorino said. “So it struck me that not just his kids, but his grandkids and his great-grandkids knew him as a musician, and if I was really done, that’s gonna mean my own kids wouldn’t even know me as an artist or musician if I’m not making art and music.”

So now that he’s got roots planted, he says he’s ready to have fun on stage again. Tickets for Music in the Park are available at

BLASTS FROM THE PAST: While the SiliCon pop culture and science fest isn’t happening this year, comic book fans aren’t being left entirely bereft. San Jose Con, from the promoters who used to put on Big Wow! Comic Fest, is taking place Sunday at the Holiday Inn at 1350 N. First St.

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This fest is much more comics-oriented, but the guest lineup will include several actors from classic TV shows (and by “classic TV,” I mean adjusting the rabbit ears on the TV set days, not streaming episodes of “Friends.”) Leading the lineup is none other than The Beav himself, Jerry Mathers, who will be joined by two of the Douglas siblings on “My Three Sons,” Barry Livingston and Stanley Livingston (who are brothers in real life, too), and Jon Provost, who played Timmy on “Lassie.”

Tickets are available for $12 at the door or $10 in advance, with kids 12 and under getting in free, at