For a guy who lived in hiding for nearly a decade, Salman Rushdie was incredibly sociable at Cinequest's closing night event Saturday.

The celebrated author -- who was under an Iranian death threat in the late 1980s because of his novel "The Satanic Verses" -- was at the film festival to receive its Maverick Spirit Award, and I think it's pretty obvious he's a bit of a maverick. But he's branched out recently into screenwriting, and Cinequest's closing night movie was "Midnight's Children," which Rushdie adapted from his 1981 novel.

He also narrates the movie, directed by Deepa Mehta, which traces the life of a young man born the day India declared its independence and the events both magical and tragic that shape both man and country over the ensuing decades. (There was a lot of praise for the movie Saturday night, and you can see it when it goes into wide release in May.)

Rushdie, dressed in a black suit and shirt with a red tie, had a rock-star presence among the festivalgoers. He was mobbed by fans when he stopped by a VIP reception at the ZERO1 Garage in downtown San Jose before heading to the California Theater.

Following the screening and a thought-provoking interview with San Jose State Professor David Kahn, Rushdie might have been expected to slink away to his hotel when the event ended close to 10 p.m. But he instead made his way to the Closing Night party at the Tech Museum, happily greeting people and posing for pictures.

Rushdie was the second celebrity of the weekend not normally associated with the film world. Michelin two-star chef Dominique Crenn, the woman behind Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, held court Friday at the Fairmont Hotel, where she also received the Maverick Spirit Award. This is the second year Cinequest has honored someone from the culinary world, and it's a good way for the festival to broaden its scope beyond movies into other creative fields.

Crenn sat down for a funny and insightful conversation with Liam Mayclem of KCBS, who was pretty tolerant of a chatty crowd. I'd provide details of the talk, but I was still mesmerized by the hors d'oeuvres that Crenn created for the event, including a Rib-eye Tartare with horseradish foam and a delightful Yogurt Mousse with Tangerine Gelee.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.