Film Festivals | Massachusetts

All Eyes on P-town

1 Jun , 2001  

Written by Tiffany Patrick | Posted by:

John Waters, edgy filmmakers, and films on the move? It must be time again for the Annual Provincetown International Film Festival.

If you never go to another film festival, or if you’ve never experienced a festival at all, hop on a boat, take a bus, fill the tank up with gas, but make your way to this New England original. The Third Annual Provincetown International Film Festival kicks off its five-day line up of films and festivities on Wednesday, June 13, 2001 in Provincetown, Massachusetts — America’s oldest art colony.

This year Provincetown will play host to more than 10,000 film enthusiasts including special guests Connie Francis, John Waters, Christine Vachon, and this year’s recipients of the Filmmaker On The Edge Award, Ted Hope and James Schamus, who, as the festival’s web site explains "…are credited with some of the most acclaimed art-house hits of the past decade." Most recently James Schamus co-wrote and co-produced Ang Lees’ "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

This festival is rapidly becoming the festival to attend for up-and-coming filmmakers and films, thanks in part to festival co-founder Connie White, who is also co-owner of the Brattle Street Cinema Group. Along with business partner Mairanne Lampke, White also is in charge of programming for the popular Coolidge Corner Theatre in Boston. Every year this P-town–based festival scores future hits, before they hit, such as "Better Than Chocolate" (1999), "Shower" (2000), "Eyes of Tammy Faye" (2000), and "Chutney Popcorn" (2000) to name a few. This year audiences will get a sneak peek at soon-to-be-hits "Anniversary Party," "All Over the Guy," and "The Girl," among others.

PJ Layng and Connie White launched the Provincetown International Film Festival in 1999; the same year Provincetown celebrated its 100th anniversary as America’s oldest art colony, an event that prompted flagship sponsor, The Provincetown Banner, to back the event. The primary mission of the festival, according to Layng, was to help the economy of Provincetown in June. "There was a need," says Layng, "to bring film to the community in the month when the economy most needed it." Three short years later, the Provincetown Film Festival is being heralded as "the filmmakers’ film festival," and has even been compared to Sundance and Cannes.

The festival is as much about Provincetown as it is about films. "The town owns this event," says Layng. "They’ve really embraced it." From individual small businesses, to the Tourism Board, to the Provincetown Banner, local donations and sponsorships for the event have dramatically increased. The Provincetown film festival is one of a handful that continues to receive the coveted sponsorship of Kodak.

In addition to a film schedule that keeps outdoing itself year after year, the festival also hosts many special guests, and honors outstanding filmmakers and entertainers. In 1999, in a very memorable acceptance speech, John Waters accepted the first annual Filmmaker on the Edge award.  "The Filmmaker on the Edge award," says Layng, "is to honor adventurous, original independent filmmaking," and has been a predominant theme of the festival since its inception. Last year all eyes were on Filmmaker on the Edge honoree, Director/Producer Christine Vachon, and the fabulous Lily Tomlin, who last year accepted the first "Lily Award." "The Lily Award," says PJ Layng, "is a lifetime achievement award for individuals whose achievements represent a true celebration of the art of entertainment." Vachon is noted for producing several art-house hits, and directed the hit "Boys Don’t Cry" which won actress Hilary Swank an Academy Award for Best Actress. This year the Filmmaker on the Edge award goes to Ted Hope and James Schamus, co-founders of Good Machine and producers of great art house films such as "Ice Storm," "Eat Drink, Man Woman," and "The Wedding Banque," among others.

One of the most dramatic endorsements of the festival is the fact that recipients of this award remain intimately involved with the festival year after year. Both Waters and Vachon serve on the festival’s Board of Directors and will return to Provincetown in June to participate in the filmmaker symposium. "They fall in love with P-town and the people putting on the festival," says Layng.

In addition to recognizing films and filmmakers on the edge, each year the festival takes a moment for a nostalgic look at the past, this year, by including a guest appearance by Connie Francis.  Francis will introduce her classic film "Where the Boys Are" on Saturday evening, June 16th at Town Hall Auditorium, and will perform for festival patrons and guests later that evening. "For us," says Layng, "’Where the Boys Are’ seemed appropriate for Provincetown. [Connie] was quite excited." In preparation for this special event festival coordinators are restoring the only 35mm reel still remaining of what was then the top teen film of its time.

As was the case in prior years, this year’s festival highlights filmmakers as prominently as their films by featuring panel discussions and personal appearances by filmmakers, who often introduce their films or answer questions after a screening. There is a real dedication not only to the art of the film, but to the filmmakers who make them. The festival is as much about the filmmakers as it is about film.

With four new screening venues and an additional day added to the schedule, more than 50 films will be screened at six venues throughout Provincetown, including the Town Hall, The New Art Cinema, Whaler’s Wharf, The Schoolhouse Center for Art and Design, and Vixen. Special events include: an opening party at the Crown and Anchor on Wednesday, June 13th; Filmmaking on the Edge, a filmmaker symposium at Town Hall on Friday evening, June 15th; and a gala reception featuring a performance by Connie Francis for festival patrons and other invited guests at the Brass Key Guesthouse on Saturday, June 16th. You can also look forward to a "Sing-A-Long Sound of Music," with special guests and audience dress-up, and a closing party at the Boatslip Beach Club on Sunday, June 17th.

For a complete festival schedule, including information on how to purchase tickets, and recommendations for places to stay while in Provincetown, visit the official web site of the 3rd annual Provincetown film festival,

For a complete festival schedule, including information on how to purchase tickets, and recommendations for places to stay while in Provincetown, visit the official web site of the 3rd annual Provincetown film festival,