Step into a realm where creativity intertwines with cinematic magic at Cinequest. Our upcoming film festival promises not only captivating screenings but also unique and enriching experiences before select shows. We are proud to present a lineup of talented artists and organizations set to unfold their brilliance, setting the stage for an unforgettable cinematic journey. Explore the world of creativity beyond the screen as these remarkable individuals and groups weave their artistry into the very fabric of the Cinequest experience. Join us as we celebrate the fusion of film and creativity, creating moments that linger long after the credits roll.

Venus Jones

Venus Jones

Venus Jones is a versatile artivist, who’s been an award-winning radio host, appeared in a Marvel movie, on a billboard, and her poetic affirmations for Kwanzaa have been downloaded in over 90 countries. She interned at MTV, taught English and Public Speaking at Mission College.

Her literature has been featured in esteemed magazines, journals, and anthologies. She’s authored four albums and three books, and was endorsed by Nikki Giovanni, Chuck D., and Langston Hughes’s family.

She’s waging peace through poetry. 

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Andrew Orolfo

Andrew Orolfo

Andrew Orolfo has been named one of the country’s “top knot” comedians by…don’t even ask, just go with it.

A JFL New Face 2022 and established staple in San Francisco comedy, he has been featured in the High Plains Comedy Festival, Comedy Central Clusterfest and Netlfix is a Joke Fest.

He can be heard on Sirius XM Radio and seen on Comedy Central, The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as Jo Koy: In His Elements on Netlfix.

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Commonality

Commonality

Founded in 2017 out of San Jose, CA, Commonality is a vibrant community fueled by passion, expression, and inclusivity. Driven by a desire to empower individuals and cultivate groundbreaking ideas, Commonality fosters a space where dancers can push boundaries and explore their talents without limitations.

Yet, at its core, Commonality's mission extends far beyond just dance. We prioritize creating a haven where individuals feel safe and embraced, free to express themselves authentically. This commitment to inclusivity transcends the stage, building a strong sense of belonging and fostering meaningful connections within the community.

While Commonality may captivate audiences with dynamic performances, our true impact lies in our dedication to fostering a supportive and expressive environment. We are a testament to the power of movement and community, reminding us that dance is not just about steps, but about the stories we tell and the connections we forge through shared experiences.

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Gayla Johnson

Gayla Johnson

Gayla Johnson appears often on ABC, CBS, and NBC - Co-Starring on ABC's ALL RISE, CBS's How to Get Away with Murder, Young & the Restless, ABC 'The Fosters', 'Bones', 'Supergirl', 'Grey's Anatomy' and others, including  National Commercials, As an accomplished Stand-up Comedian credits include: Showtime "Fierce Funny Women", Comics Unleashed, SiTv's LAFF Jam, SITV's Inside Joke, B.E.T. Comic View, TBS Comedy Festival, & Ice House Comedy TV Series 'Comedy Time'Her Newly released 45-minute Comedy CD 'Black Wives Matter' is available on SirusXM, Amazon and iTunes.

Diverse with a background in Public Speaking, Theatre, Improv and a Degree in Broadcast Communications, She's quoted as saying "Stand-up Comedy is the one thing you can do badly, and NO ONE will laugh at you". She's won a host of comedy competitions, including: The Ice House Comedy Club Contest, Positive I Can Entertain Competition, Funniest Female, and the Make Me LAFF Competition.

You may catch her "LIVE ON STAGE" at Laugh Out Loud-Tx, Rooster T Feathers, Ice House Comedy Club, Ontario Improv, World Famous Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, Flappers and the HaHa Comedy Club. She has shared the stage with Chris Rock, Tony Rock, Damon Wayans, Dat Phan, Josh Blue, Don DC Curry, Marc Curry, Rodney Perry, Sammy Shore, Joey Medina, Doug McCraw, Gabriel Iglesias, Felipe Esparza, Christina Pazsinky, Richard Villa, Edwin San Juan, Rudy Moreno, Reynaldo Rey, Shang, Rusty Z, Beth Donahue.

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The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra

The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra

The Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra (PACO) is an award-winning youth orchestra for regional string musicians of high-school age and younger. PACO’s five ensembles – SuperStrings, Preparatory, Debut, Sinfonia and Senior PACO – have approximately 25 members each which rehearse weekly and perform throughout the year presenting an extraordinary level of music-making and commitment to their art.

At PACO, we believe that making music - and lifelong friends - is best achieved in an atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork. Our focus on small orchestras and chamber music makes that possible, and we minimize internal competition to foster creativity and collaboration for our young musicians. PACO students get many opportunities to work with each other across orchestra levels, knitting our musical family together and providing teaching and learning opportunities for all. Team work, compassion, empathy and imagination are hallmarks for our community. More than just learning how to play the notes, our students learn the real meaning and value of playing well with others. Our emphasis on chamber music uniquely sets PACO apart from other youth programs and lies at the core of our educational success, allowing a highly personalized commitment to both our students and our community, as envisioned in our mission statement:

We teach young string players to play well with others, to forge a musical community, and to make the world a better place.

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Riya Patel

Riya Patel

My name is Riya Patel, and I am the founder of Riya Patel Choreography, a brand dedicated to showcasing and exploring South Asian dance genres. I am currently a third year Finance student at San Jose State University as well as a freelance Bollywood choreographer and performer. 

My dance journey began at the mere age of 3. I trained with Aerodance Academy in Fremont, California, where I explored styles such as Bollywood, Semiclassical, Garba/Raas, and many more folk and fusion genres. During my time as a student at Aerodance, I started choreographing and teaching pre-teen and teen competitive teams, which sparked my passion for creating and artistic storytelling. I was blessed to have the opportunity to experience platforms such as the SF Ethnic Festival and choreographing segments for our academy’s Golden State Warriors’ Bollywood night performance. In 2019, I decided to use my dance education to help communities by hosting in person and virtual workshops in support of good causes. What once was only a hobby became so much more to me. Leaving for college, I feared losing dance in my life and decided to continue training with San Jose State’s competitive Bollywood Fusion dance team. After a memorable season ranking 11th in the nation, I finally felt ready to embark on my professional choreography journey.

Riya Patel Choreography launched on August 26th, 2022 with a Semiclassical-Folk Fusion concept video which has now reached 2.2 million views on Youtube. Ever since, RPC has been producing more concept videos as well as event performances and bridal choreography. I am so thrilled to bring RPC to the Cinequest stage this year, and we hope to see you there!"

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Robert Pesich

Robert Pesich’s work has appeared in MiGoZine, 7x7, The Bitter Oleander, Sand Hill Review, Santa Clara Review, Content Magazine, Jung Journal and other journals and is forthcoming in Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine. Work also appears in the anthologies Wondering the Alphabet (Bitter Oleander Press, 2017) and And We the Creatures edited by C.J. Sage (Dream Horse Press, 2003). He is the author of Model Organism (Five Oaks Press, 2017) and Burned Kilim (Dragonfly Press, 2001) and he co-edited the anthology Cuts from the Barbershop (Tollbooth Press, 2004). In 2004 he was awarded an Artist Fellowship from Arts Council Silicon Valley (now SVCreates) and in 2009 was awarded the Littoral Press Poetry Prize judged by Gary Young. He has also received support from Silicon Valley Community Foundation and was thrice a Djerassi Resident Artist Fellow. He curates the Well-RED Reading Series and works as editor/publisher at Swan Scythe Press, president of Poetry Center San José, and as a research associate at Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research and Stanford University, Dept. of Infectious Diseases.

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Hollister Dance Company

Hollister Dance Company stands at the forefront of excellence in the competitive dance arena. Established in 2021 under the visionary leadership of artistic director Jaelyn Andrade, the team has become synonymous with precision, innovation, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of performance art. Led by Jaelyn’s expertise in choreography and a passion for nurturing individual talent, Hollister Dance Company has consistently achieved success on many competition stages. The team's repertoire spans a wide range of dance styles, from captivating contemporary routines to energetic hip-hop performances, showcasing the versatility and skill of its dancers. Distinguished by a rigorous training program, the Competition Team comprises dedicated and disciplined individuals who continually strive for mastery in their craft. The team's accomplishments are a testament to its performers' hard work, perseverance, and the guidance of an esteemed team of choreographers and coaches.

 Hollister Dance Company has earned many awards for its dynamic choreography, seamless execution, and ability to convey emotion through movement. The team's participation in prestigious competitions has solidified its reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the dance community, garnering numerous awards and accolades for both group performances and individual dancers. Beyond the competition stage, Hollister Dance Company actively engages in outreach initiatives, sharing its passion for dance with communities and inspiring the next generation of performers. With a dedication to artistic excellence, a commitment to growth, and a profound love for the art of dance, Hollister Dance Company continues to elevate the standard of competitive dance.

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