Cinequest celebrates young filmmakers who inspire to create global change

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Youth filmmakers from the Picture the Possibilities program

Starting today, the Cinequest film festival in San Jose/Silicon Valley will showcase films created by young people, using their stories as a way to inspire positive social change. Picture the Possibilities empowers young people from all over the world with the innovative tools, mentors and training necessary to produce the films. The program also connects them with leaders around the world to share ideas and gain a better understanding of community. Today, at a private event for participants,  the films will be watched by media, business, cultural and political leaders. Participants will engage in conversations with the young filmmakers and suggest means to transform their visions into tangible plans to effect change, both locally and globally. The event takes place not only in San Jose/Silicon Valley, but also simultaneously in five other cities where the teen filmmakers are from: Beijing, Shanghai, New York City, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Approximately 150 young people were part of the program and were helped by a team of filmmakers who offered advice in writing scripts, shooting and editing as part of a film boot-camp. In total, 19 films were shot and focused on issues of immigration, obesity, living in post 9/11 New York City and more. Tomorrow, the Picture the Possibilities website goes live. The site will be accessible at and feature the top films as well as personal profiles of the filmmakers and other e-learning opportunities. One of the films that will be featured on the site and screened to the public is the documentary-short Where We Are Safe , which details the violence, drugs, gangs and instability facing young people in the community of East Palo Alto. Through the film, youth hope to raise awareness of the issues facing their community and raise money to build a skate park to serve as a sanctuary. On Sunday, March 4, Picture the Possibilities will have its official public premier event at the California Theater, where for the first time the public will have the opportunity to enjoy the year’s top films, participate in Q&As with the young filmmakers and more. Knight Foundation currently supports the screening of the top films at Cinequest. Judith Kleinberg, program director/San Jose/Silicon Valley at Knight Foundation says:

“Our purpose in making the grant was to support the effort to empower youth with the 21st century digital story-telling tools, mentors and experience needed to turn their stories into films while challenging them to drive change in their communities.”

Earlier this week, the San Jose Mercury News profiled Picture the Possibilities focusing on how the project engages young people who are most in need of having their stories told. “It really hammered home the point that the most powerful stories are in your own backyard. These kids have gone through a lot and they are probably going to go through a lot more,” Filmmaker Vijay Vanniarajan told the Mercury News. Cinequest is one of the few film festivals dedicated to the discovery of new and emerging film artists. The 13-day event features over 200 international films with over 600 artists, technologists and professionals from over 40 countries. 10,000 artists have attended the festival to date.  This year marks the 22nd year of the festival. 

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