LETTER FROM THE CEO
Dare I write that winter rivals spring for my favorite time of year in Provincetown. One can stroll the streets or walk along the ocean without spying nary a soul. And yet, we know that we’re not alone. We congregate at the cinema or at a PAAM opening or at a reading at the library or at a play at the theater or at the Tuesday community potlucks, where creativity abounds as evidenced by the dozens of variations on the crockpot dish witnessed at Seashore Point the other night.
We welcome the quiet moments, shared or otherwise though, as January launches the film society into full-time planning and prep mode for our spring and summer programs. This past month, half of our team took a few days to head to Utah for the annual conference of art film exhibitors to pool intelligence about art house sustainability, sharpen our programming philosophies, and improve upon our operating structures. Board members Anthony Lawson and Christine Barker and I attended (what I refer to as) strategic planning boot camp in New York City hosted by Manish Thakur of Option3Ventures and led by Fabienne Gimenez EVP at Cardworks. To the rest who generously shared their time and their brilliance, we are truly grateful. Thank you Mike Syers, Jason Drucker, Alexandra Foucard, Nadine Licostie, Annetta Marion, and Tracy Passerella.
Among the concepts that we grappled with was how to build community while preserving a space for the ‘diverse voice.’ One participant revealed to us that as a gay, non-Christian, man of color, in his experience, ‘community’ has never been a welcoming term. I am hoping to explore this concept further at our Women’s Media Summit retreat next month on March 23rd where we will also reevaluate the goals and purpose of the summit. Three years after starting the summit, so much has changed. Our goal at this upcoming retreat is to determine how the Women’s Media Summit can support change while coming up with ways to acknowledge and ground the differences among us. Please, please join us for this important conversation!!!
In our ongoing effort to promote diversity and inclusion, we are excited to announce two new mentorship programs named after two individuals who have had an important impact on the arts in Provincetown and in their work with students. The Anthony Lawson LGBTQ Mentorshp Program and the Tim McCarthy LGTBQ International Student of Color Scholarship program will enable us to empower the next generation of LGBTQ filmmakers to create and tell their stories. These programs are made possible by the Conte Family of Andover, MA and Paul Breen and Bo Harris of Provincetown. For more information, go to www.provincetownfilm.org/mentorship-programs/.
Valentine’s Day is upon us and we urge one and all to take a cherished person in their lives to their favorite arthouse cinema to see Pawel Pawlikowski’s romantic Oscar-nominated film COLD WAR or for a different kind of love story, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Oscar-nominated short END GAME. Keeping our fingers crossed for Rob and Jeff, who serve on the advisory board to the film society. This is academy award number three for them! These films are the kind of work that motivates and inspires us to do what we do and you are the folks who help us make it happen. So here’s sending you all a Valentine’s gift in the form of a Mary Oliver poem, the beloved Provincetown poet who sadly passed away this month.
NOT ANYONE WHO SAYS
Not anyone who says, “I’m going to be
careful and smart in matters of love,”
who says, “I’m going to choose slowly,”
but only those lovers who didn’t choose at all
but were, as it were, chosen
by something invisible and powerful and uncontrollable
and beautiful and possibly even
only those know what I’m talking about
in this talking about love.
Christine Kunewa Walker, CEO
MEMBER IN THE NEWS:
Berta Walker curator, gallery owner (in Wellfleet & Provincetown), artist, philanthropist and Ptown local is February’s Member in The News.
With deep and personal ties in the lower and outer cape, Berta is a humanitarian and philanthropist for the arts recognizing film as medium and art form. She is somewhat of a cinephile, and very known by PFS staff to weigh in on her festival favorites year after year.
Berta’s reach does not just expand the east coast, her connections and grasp has been national and global in scope. In her career, Berta’s art form has been to curate exhibitions with finesse showcasing works from the likes of artisan greats Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Ross Moffett, Agnes Weinrich, Dorothy Lake Gregory, Varujan Boghosian and Blanche Lazzell to name a few.
Artists Gloria Nardin and Peter Watts were trusted friends. Last year Berta curated an exhibition to honor Nardin after her death. She said, “I wanted to treat myself to her energy and the energy of her special friends. As I write this, I feel Gloria’s light and twinkle, smiling humbly and happily”.
In 2015 Berta showcased a brilliant exhibition called “Trio of Friends” with works of artist Varujan Boghosian, Paul Resika and the late Sidney Simon. This event presented a rare opportunity to see Simon’s works.
In 2016 an exhibition marking the centennial of Provincetown as an art colony was a highpoint of the season. The exhibition “Bound East for Provincetown,” showcased the work of 29 artists who were in town. Her gallery motto is “Presenting the history of American Art as seen through the eyes of Provincetown.” One needs not look far to see that she is accomplishing that goal with every exhibition.
Berta opened her first gallery in Provincetown in 1989 which resides today at 208 Bradford Street. Her sensitivity and discretion complements her wonderful instincts and artistry for the varied exhibitions that bedazzle the outer cape.
 Gloria in Excelsis – Entertainment – Wicked Local Provincetown – Provincetown, Ma. – June 15, 2018
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A NEW BIRD IN OUR FLOCK
We’d like to welcome our newest member of the Provincetown Film Society team—Ellen Birmingham! Ellen is a Cape Cod native who grew up in Harwich and currently resides in Chatham. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a degree in Arts Management, with additional studies in Theater Arts. Ellen got her start in the non-profit arts world six years ago as the Director of Marketing & Communications and Box Office Manager for The Academy of Performing Arts in Orleans, along with being an actor, singer, stage manager, and designer for countless performances and events with a number of Cape theaters. A lover of music, Ellen plays violin and serves on the Board of Directors for the Cape Community Orchestra, and is a member of the Boston Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity for Women.
Let’s all go to PIFF 2019!
Submissions for the 2019 Provincetown Film Festival are NOW OPEN!
Join us for this 5-day film festival, from June 12—16. Each year, we showcase independent film in America’s first art colony and celebrate the power of artists who continue to operate outside the mainstream.
Now in its 21st successful year, PIFF has permanently established itself as the largest cultural event in lower Cape Cod and Provincetown’s premier cultural event, attracting 10,000 plus film-goers, movie buffs, and arts patrons. This festival showcases over 100 American and international independent narrative, documentary and animated features and shorts as well as panel discussions and special events.
EXTENDED DEADLINE IS MARCH 1! SUBMIT YOUR FEATURE OR SHORT TODAY!
Join us May 16th–19th for Jamaica On Film, a three day celebration of all things Jamaica – its films, its filmmakers and its culture. Replete with a vibrant history, Jamaica has long captivated the imagination of filmmakers and audiences alike.
Our three day festival will feature just some of the great films that have their roots in Jamaica, kicking off with an opening night screening and reception of Idris Elba’s directorial debut, YARDIE, and culminating in a special 45th anniversary presentation of THE HARDER THEY COME, Jamaica’s most celebrated film.
A non-profit arthouse cinema, operating year-round, and contributing to Provincetown’s tradition as America’s oldest and most vital art colony. Located on the mezzanine between the 2nd and 3rd floor of Whalers Wharf.
This 2019 Oscar-nominee for Best Foreign Language Film enthralls you with an impossible love story in impossible times. A tantalizing period piece set against 1950s Europe, COLD WAR tells the story of a music director who falls deeply in love with a singer and then tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France. Inspired by a real Polish folk dance troupe and the story of his parents, writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski was the only Director to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Director without having his film in the best picture category.
Playing this month in The Provincetown Film Art Series
Curated and hosted by Howard Karren, Arts Editor of the Provincetown Banner
OBIT (2016)—Death may not be proud, but it produces some of the best journalism in The New York Times, or so it would seem in Vanessa Gould’s crisp and engaging documentary about how obituaries are written in the paper of record. Directed by Vanessa Gould, with Bruce Weber, William McDonald, and Margalit Fox. (93 minutes)
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF CINEMA IN PROVINCETOWN
THE LAUNCH with JULIE ROCKETT
I can’t remember why I was sad at the time but I do remember sitting on a porch with my friend Joe who handed me a drink and his iPhone and had me watch a video titled, “Chloë Sevigny: Toast”. I heard the words “Ironic coin skort by Obesity & Speed” and quickly forgot my troubles. That night and some trying days since, I have relied on Drew Droege’s hysterical videos to be my anthropomorphized shot of Prozac.
One can imagine my excitement when Drew responded that he would love to discuss films with me. He graciously took time from his hella busy schedule to discuss his upcoming projects, his belief that comedy doesn’t have to be safe, and his wonderfully quirky and dark sense of humor.
JR: First of all, I would like to say that I am so bummed that your TV series, Heathers, was barely shown.
DD: Oh thanks, we are too. It was a dream gig to do. Growing up I watched Heathers all the time. It changed my life. Then when I saw that Jason Micallef had brilliantly reimagined it and asked me to be a part of it, I was ecstatic. And on top of that Matt McConkey and other friends were writing for it… then across-the-board, it became the most amazing experience creatively and emotionally for me.
Sadly, we’re at a real strange time in our world with comedy. What we can and can’t do is so limited. It’s a hard, literal space were stuck in. For anything funny to have edge or be biting without people being triggered is rare.
JR: ‘Triggered’ is exactly the word. Like we have to be safe with comedy these days and historically comedy was never safe.
DD: It’s a difficult spot. Heathers was such a queer show and so was the film. It was also about outsiders retaliating against the mean girls. And we reimagined it with plus-size and queer Heathers and Heathers of color, but people still seemed to have a hard time understanding the messages like, ‘people are human’ and ‘power corrupts’. No matter who it is that is put in power, in this case teenagers, things get turned on their ears.
Then there was all the gun violence on the show… Comedy is a social corrective. We were making the point that this is wrong and should not happen. There was nothing glorifying violence about the show at all.
Ultimately, the people that saw Heathers loved it and it was a dream to be part of it.
JR: Moving on to film, let’s discuss your first favorite film.
DD: It was ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’. I was a huge horror fan, even as a small kid. I loved Freddy Krueger. I thought Robert Englund was brilliant. Ronee Blakely gives that great performance as a drunk mother. It’s a movie that to this day I feel is incredibly well-made. Nancy is a ‘final girl’ that fights back and I think that was a first. And it’s a movie about children paying for the sins of their parents. That’s something that resonates with me. It’s still one of my favorite films.
JR: My own parents would never have let me see a movie like that when I was kid, probably because they knew I would never fall asleep again, but it sounds like your parents were much more flexible when it came to movie viewing.
DD: Anything that was sexual was something they made me wait longer to see because we live in America and sex is taboo. I’m not sure why they were okay with it. Maybe Freddy Krueger was such a monster that he was separate from reality? I also loved the Thriller video and KISS when I was a kid. I didn’t know a KISS song, I just liked the way they looked. The old Batman show was a favorite. It was drag in its own way and I loved that stuff.
JR: Do you remember seeing any cult classics when you were young?
DD: Heathers, of course. That was something that I completely fell in love with. It started my love for dark comedy and that feeling of: should I laugh or be shocked? On top of that it was really offensive and so funny.
Another thing that came up during that time that had a profound effect on me was Married With Children. It was that same feeling of making fun of that perfect pop culture idea of what a family was.
JR: It sounds like you developed a very iconoclastic sense of humor early on.
DD: Definitely. And it makes me so happy to see my nephews, who are eleven and seven, develop such a wicked sense of humor. I get a kick out of seeing that passed down through the family. My brother is so excited to tell me that the kids watched Clue and loved it. I was like, ‘Thank god your kids are so cool and that they already love cool things!’
When they were younger, we watched Annie and they just perked up any time Carol Burnett appeared onscreen. Carol Burnett is the reason I’m an entertainer. As a three-year-old, I wasn’t into cartoons, my Mom tells me that I loved watching Carol Burnett Show reruns. My mom told me that I always got the jokes. But I wasn’t a genius – Carol Burnett was. She is pure comedy. It wasn’t intellectual but yet, it was brilliant.
JR: What documentaries do you recommend?
DD: There are so many. The most recent documentary that I saw was Shirkers. It’s a must-see for any filmmaker and any fan of 90s new wave filmmaking. It starts out as a young woman in Singapore who tries to make a film with no money and it’s about her crazy filmmaking teacher who inspired her. It’s mind blowing!
I was obsessed with Wild Wild Country. Grey Gardens, of course, remains a favorite.
JR: Did you see Bright Lights with Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? It’s like Grey Gardens without the squalor.
DD: Oh yes! It was so good! They definitely had the same dynamic, they needed each other. It was a comfort, actually. It made me feel okay about them dying a day apart. That’s how it should have been because they were such a team. I didn’t realize that they couldn’t exist without the other until saw the documentary. I don’t think anybody, except those that were really close to them, knew that.
JR: Right now in Massachusetts it is cold and rainy and all I want to do is get under a blanket and watch a movie. Are there any comforting movies that you recommend?
DD: There’s something really sick about me. <laughs> Maybe it’s because I do comedy a lot. I’m writing or performing or teaching it, so I don’t really wind down by watching a comedy. But once a year, when I’m in a certain mood, I watch Magnolia.
JR: What a great movie!
DD: I don’t know what it is. Maybe being in LA? I’m not sure. I do know that Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. There’s something about the characters in that movie and its pace and the depth and the sadness. There so much comedy in it, too. It’s three hours that I really need once a year.
JR: I mean Tom Cruise, who knew?
DD: Oh my god, brilliant. He deserved an Oscar for that film. And Julianne Moore in the drugstore and the Aimee Mann soundtrack…
JR: And what’s your favorite film of all time?
DD: Nashville. I love those big ensemble, character-driven meandering stories where you have to decide what is the big picture. Every time you watch it you think, ‘oh it’s about this character’ or ‘this aspect’. It always changes and I love it so much.
JR: Is there a person or subject that you would love to work with?
DD: Yes, John Waters. I know he’s not really doing films and he’s so busy but that would be a dream come true. This industry is stupid and we have the MPAA who sees John Waters’ name on a movie and they slap a NC-17 rating on it so it’s impossible to get those movies made. He’s still such an icon despite that.
JR: What are you working on next?
DD: I’m writing for a show with RuPaul. It’s so cool because I’ve loved him all my life and now I get to create with him. It’s a new show for Netflix called AJ & The Queen. It should come out later this year. Ru’s an actor on this show and he’s really good in it. People will be blown away by him in this role. They’re filming my episode right now so we’ve been up until 3am filming, so I’m a bit of a vampire right now.
I’m also doing a play in LA this spring called Born To Win. We open in late February. It’s by Matt Wilkas from Gayby and it stars him, me, Daiva Dupree and Julanne Chidi Hill. It’s about Texas child pageants. So I’m learning lines right now. It’s crazy but it’s all good!