Film lovers come to Cinequest to revel in stories about something artists like to call the human condition.
Even the best films, though, created by the best filmmakers still have trouble holding a candle to the real thing.
It is what actress and producer Elizabeth Mitchell is learning the hard way.
"I have cancer," Mitchell said. "With this diagnosis, I should not be here at this time next year. I shouldn't even be able to make it to the fall according to the statistics."
Mitchell and husband Sean McCarthy are fixtures in the Bay Area film and video community. They have worked on countless, varied productions over the years, including their own comedy series streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Consistently, though, for the past 12 years, Mitchell and McCarthy have produced the official Cinequest trailer that runs before each festival screening. In this nomadic industry, that counts for a lot.
"They turn out to be your family," Mitchell said.
Evidence of that was delivered directly to Mitchell after she informed Halfdan Hussey, co-founder of Cinequest, about her diagnosis. He rushed to support the couple both emotionally and financially.
"Both of them are incredibly giving people," Hussey said. "They've done so much for Cinequest and the people we serve."
Hussey, it turns out, was just the first act. Others in the Bay Area film community have jumped in as well, offering money, rides, meals, and whatever else is needed. A GoFundMe page has raised nearly $50,000.
"The Bay Area film community's been amazing. I've heard from people that I knew of but I've never actually met or worked with," Mitchell said. "The outpouring has been so touching and unexpected."
This is why making to Cinequest this year was so important to Mitchell. She managed to visit this weekend before the festival was cut short by the Coronavirus.
It was, for Mitchell, a chance to say, 'Thank you,' to all those who have helped and be embraced by the community she loves.