The 2011 Cinequest Film Festival which takes place March 1-13 in San Jose, announced the two features that will bookend the upcoming Festival. John Turturro’s Italian music documentary Passione will be the official Opening Night Film while Sean McNamara’s Soul Surfer will serve as the official Closing Night film.

John Turturro (“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” “Transformers,” “The Big Lebowski”) will also be on hand, Opening Night, March 1, 7pm, to present his film and to receive Cinequest’s coveted Maverick Spirit Award, which recognizes visionaries who truly capture the essence of the Maverick by entertaining and inspiring audiences through evocative means.

Passione is described as, a journey through a jukebox, the biggest in the world: Naples, a casket of songs and a legend that begins with the myth of the Muses. Songs and singers, musicians and poets, real and legendary characters are the protagonists of a film which travels through one of the most beautiful, famous and controversial metropolises in the world. With the eye of a foreigner, but perhaps not that foreign, the Italian-American John Turturro explores the city and its music, from the 13th century Canto delle lavandaie del Vomero to Napul’è by Pino Daniele, evoking distant stories and local myths, alternating fond memories with reconstructions, from melodramas to music videos, the history of song to the histories that songs narrate and hide. Images of the great voice of a now remote past are superimposed onto those of modern players, capable of carrying on a glorious tradition, recreating it and renewing it. Thus the voice of Mina opens the path to that of Pietra Montecorvino, and the experiments of Raiz, Almamegretta and M’Barka Ben Taleb frame the meeting of Massimo Ranieri with Lina Sastri amidst the exploits of Fiorello and Gennaro Cosmo Parlato and the musical memories of Avion Travel, Peppe Barra and James Senese. An exceptional orchestra for a repertoire which sings of love, sex, jealousy, immigration and protest, entrusted to Turturro, who transforms every song into a little melodrama, a sentimental postcard sent from a city and from the forces which move it.

Soul Surfer starring Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt, AnnaSophia Robb, Carrie Underwood, Lorraine Nicholson, Kevin Sorbo, Jeremy Sumpter, and directed by Sean McNamara, is the true story of competitive teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and courageously overcame all odds to become a champion again, inspiring millions worldwide through her sheer determination and unwavering faith.

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