CINEQUST FILM & VR FESTIVAL FEB 28 – MAR 12, 2017

Silicon Valley’s annual film festival Cinequest is back this year with a strong foucs on virtual reality (VR).  The VR offerings range from short VR films to VR experiences and workshops with filmmakers on how to capture and create VR content.

Cinequest Film & VR festival runs from Feb 28 – Mar 12, 2017 and is expanding it sofferings beyond downtown San Jose to Santana Row in San Jose and Redwood City in the Peninsula.

The theme for this year’s festival is “elevate,” shared Halfdan Hussey, CEO and co-founder of Cinequest. Jason Reitman and Jane Lynch will receive the Maverick Award this year.

The opening night film on Feb 28 is director Mark Wellington’s The Last Word with Shirley MacLaine and Amanda Seyfried.

The closing night film on March 12 is director Niki Caro’s The Zookeeper’s Wife starring Jessica Chastain and Johan Heldenbergh. The picture is based Diane Ackerman’s book by the same name. This is a true story about Jan and Antonina Żabiński, who saved the lives of people and animals in Poland during World War 2.

Great Garbo’s Flesh and The Devil is this year’s silent film offering. Dennis James will play live music on the wurlitzer organ.

For information on film festival schedule and ticket visit their website.

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DEEPIKA PADUKONE IN xXx RETURN OF XANDER CAGE

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone was in Hollywood a few days ago to promote her new film xXx Return of Xander Cage that stars Vin Diesel and is directed by DJ Caruso.

xXx Return of Xander Cage

Diesel, Caruso and  Padukone attended the Indian premier in Mumbai  since the film released in India on Jan 13, 2017. Diesel’s films are hugely popular in India, and so it was no surprise that he got a hugely warm welcome when he was in Mumbai to promote his film.

After promoting the film in India Padukone got busy promoting it in the US in various talk shows. xXX Return of Xander Cage released in the US on  Jan 18, 2017.

This is Padukone’s first Hollywood film as she explains  in The Ellen Show interview.

Padukone also appeared on the Late, Late Show with James Corden along with Diesel. Corden and Padukone busted some Bollywood moves of lungi dance, a hugely popular song from the Bollywood film Chennai Express. Corden is a quick study as you can see for yourself in this clip. Who knows you might end up seeing Corden in a Bollywood film.

And, here is the original “lungi dance” from Chennai Express that stars Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan. The song pays homage to the South India film actor Superstar Rajnikanth, who is also known as Thalaiva, which means leader in Tamil. Rajnikanth is known for his unique style of dancing.

Who knew one day I’d end up watching a Rajnikanth inspired song on American TV.

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VIDEO: DR. UMA JAYARAM ON VIRTUAL REALITY & ENGINEERING

Dr. Uma Jayaram is the co-founder and COO of VOKE VR that was acquired by Intel Corp in November 2016 for an undisclosed amount. We recorded our interview with Dr. Jayaram earlier this year before it was acquired by Intel.

We sat down with Dr. Jayaram to find out how she and her husband Dr. Sankar Jayaram came up with the idea to build VOKE VR and how they built an end-to-end VR solution. Their goal was to provide real-time, immersive experience to their audience and they succeeded in doing that. Their solution is used to stream live concert and sports events she shares.

Dr. Jayaram grew up in Durgapur, India and credits her mother for nurturing her interest in math and science. Her mother was one of the first women engineers in India, who  got her master’s in electrical engineering from University of Washington in 1954. Instead of staying back in the US her mother elected to go back to India to teach physics at an Engineering college in Durgapur.

Dr. Jayaram shares her mother was her  role model for her career and family. Dr. Jayaram fondly reminisces an evening when her mother taught her  about Einstein’s theory for her exams, while rustling up a sumptuous dinner for her family.

Dr. Jayaram followed her mother’s footsteps and studied engineering and eventually ended up in Washington state, where she taught at Washington State University, Pullman. The Jayarams founded a couple of companies before founding VOKE.

This interview is part of our TV series on Women in Science & Tech sponsored by Zoho Corp.

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VIDEO: THEODORE MILFE ON “HIDDEN FIGURES”

We caught up director Theodore Melfi during the screening of his film Hidden Figures by the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS). We talked to him about the making of Hidden Figures which is about 3 African-American math teachers, who went on to work for NASA and worked in the Apollo project in the 1960s. We also spoke to him on he came to be attached the film project,  the math boot camp that he held for his actors and the music by Pharrell Williams and Hans Zimmer.

Melfi and Olivia Spencer, who acts in the film were in San Francisco to receive The Sloan Science in Cinema award. The award is given by the SFSS and The Sloan Foundation.

Hidden Figures stars Taraji Henderson, Olivia Henderson, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kristin Dunst, Jim Parsons and Mahershala Ali.

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REMEMBERING OM PURI

Veteran actor Om Puri (66) passed away on Jan 6, 2016 in Mumbai. A versatile and talented actor, Puri acted in theatre, films and TV. He made his film debut in the 1970s and went on to act in many art house films in Hindi and branched off into mainstream Bollywood. He then went on to act in British films and TV and Hollywood and  films like The Jewel In The Crown, City of Joy, East is East, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Hundred-Foot Journey and the yet-to-be released Viceroy’s House by Gurinder Chadha.

EAST IS EAST:

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY:

THE VICEROY’S HOUSE:

OM PURI INTERVIEW IN HINDI:

VIDEO: FLORE DE ANIS BY CASCADE DE FLORES

Flor de Anís is a song composed by Jorge Licego by Cascada de Flores, a San Francisco Bay area ensemble.  Liceaga sings the music and is accompanied by Arwen Lawrence (vocalist, dancer), Kyla Danysh (violinist, vocalist), and Saul Sierra-Alonso (bass).

You can watch the entire performance and an interview with Lawrence here. The show was aired on TV in the USA.

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NEW YEAR GREETINGS

Happy New Year

Wish you a wonderful new year filled with happiness and joy.

REMEMBERING DEBBIE REYNOLDS AND CARRIE FISHER

What a year 2016 turned out to be. To use the hackneyed phrase surreal to describe 2016 would be a master understatement. It is as if we are all part of some bad film. What was utterly surreal is the way in which the mother and daughter actors Carrie Fisher (60) and Debbie Reynolds (84) passed away within a day. Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on her flight from London to Los Angeles from which she never recovered. She passed away on Dec 27, 2016. Reynolds was in the midst of preparing her daughter’s funeral arrangements when she suffered a stroke and passed away on Dec 28, 2016. There will be now be a joint funeral for Fisher and Reynolds.

Both Fisher and Reynolds were gifted actors, who were beloved to millions of people around the world. Growing up in India I remember how folks would fondly recollect Reynolds in MGM’s film Singin’ In The Rain. In fact the film was a mandatory watch for many kids in India before the age of Internet. Reynolds made her mark in the film alongside Gene Kelley. Here is a clip of Reynolds from Singin’ In The Rain. She was only 19 when she acted in the film

Fisher followed her mother’s footsteps and made her mark as Princess Leia in Star Wars. Here is an interview of Fisher by Brian Linehan.

 

Fisher was also a writer, who wrote extensively and one of her books was made into a film called Postcards From The Edge.

 

On January 7, 2017 HBO plans to debut its documentary Bright Lights that explores the relationship between Reynolds and Fisher.

 

 

VIDEO: CHRISTOPHER LOCHHEAD ON PLAY BIGGER, SILICON VALLEY & THE CHURCH OF LATTER-DAY DUDE

Meet Silicon Valley-based Christopher Lochhead, co-author of f Play Bigger – How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets. Prior to writing the book Lochhead was the Chief Marketing Officer of 3 Silicon Valley-based companies. He is also the father of 7 hens, a surfer and a priest in the Church of Latter-Day Dude.

We sat down with Lochhead to talk about his book, growing up in Canada and how he came to work in Silicon Valley and worked for 3 different companies: Vantive, Scient and Mercury Interactive that was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 1996 for over $4.5 billion. Lochhead also shares about how he and his partner failed in their first company and how his dyslexia. And finally, we talk to him about his priesthood in the Church of Latter-Day Dude that is based on the teachings of The Big Lebowski.

You can follow Lochhead on Twitter.

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VIDEO: LA LA LAND’S DAMIEN CHAZELLE AND JUSTIN HURWITZ

 

We got an opportunity to speak with Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz about the making of La La Land, its music, the influence of Hollywood musicals, Jacques Demy and their first day in Los Angeles. Are there any autobiographical elements in this film? Tune in to find out.

Chazelle wrote and directed the film and Hurwitz composed the music. They have worked together since their student days at Harvard University. Their last collaboration Whiplash for which JK Simmons won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons and John Legend.

This interview was originally aired on TV in the US.

You can subscribe to our podcast and  YouTube channel, where every week we feature new interviews. And here is a list of TV stations in the US that broadcast our show.