LETTER FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dear PFS Community
I am excited to announce that I have joined PFS as the Interim Executive Director. I am full of hope as 2021 unfolds, and recognize this as a moment of reinvention and renewal. Even through crisis, we continue to discover who we are, and in alignment with PFS’s core mission, celebrate new, diverse voices that boldly lift and lead us forward.
Voices like Amanda Gorman in, ‘The Hill We Climb”:
“When day comes, we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if we’re only brave enough to see it
If we’re only brave enough to be it”
I have been a lifelong part-time resident of Provincetown and Truro with deep ties to the community, a working producer, and professor of film for a combined twenty years. I bring experience in fundraising, creative development, marketing, and management, as well as strong ties to the industry, non-profit board experience, and a love of storytelling in all its forms. I am a problem-solver, a bridge builder, and though seasoned at the day to day, I anchor all the work I do with an eye toward thought of where we can go, and where we can grow.
I join an incredibly talented and devoted staff and board, who have tirelessly helped weather the storm of 2020, and we find ourselves at a moment where we have much to look forward to. As ED, my immediate goals are to continue finding ways to bring sustainability to the organization, while also developing new sources of funding for PFS, including new programs and initiatives that support the organization’s mission and create new opportunities for our members and filmmakers.
I look forward to the journey ahead, and the new voices we will discover together.
Known for its unique culture, world-class dining, and artful experiences and performances, Provincetown has established itself as a hub for creative personal expression. Provincetown Film Society’s Winter Auction captures all the things that make Provincetown the wonderful place that it is. Browse through our listings and bid on one-of-a-kind experiences, delicious dining, and hidden treasures; all featuring the people and places that call Provincetown home.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH WATCH PARTY RECOMMENDATIONS
Celebrate Black History Month by screening new release films, reacquainting yourself with films from past PIFF festivals, or revisiting classics that you may have missed. All of these titles are available on various streaming platforms – many are directorial debuts. Here are some suggestions:
13TH directed by Ava DuVernay (2016) Explores the history of racial inequality in the United States, focusing on the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans. A timely film that highlights the issues behind the recent executive order signed by President Biden to not renew any federal contracts with private prisons. (Netflix)
BAMBOOZLED directed by Spike Lee (2000) A frustrated African American TV writer proposes a blackface minstrel show in protest, but to his chagrin it becomes a hit. A blisteringly funny, unapologetically confrontational satire, Bamboozled is a stinging indictment of mass entertainment at the turn of the century. (Amazon Prime)
BOYZ IN THE HOOD directed by John Singleton (1991) It’s hard to believe that this classic coming-age-‘hood’ drama was the late John Singleton’s fresh out of college feature film debut starring Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. Laurence Fishburne and recent first-time director herself, Regina King (One Night in Miami). Following the lives of three young males living in the Crenshaw ghetto of Los Angeles, the story contemplates future prospects in the face of social and economic turmoil.
DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST directed by Julie Dash, (1991) Julie Dash’s rapturous vision of Black womanhood and vanishing ways of life in the turn-of-the-century South was the first film directed by an African American woman to receive a wide release. Addressing weighty themes with lovely visuals and a light, poetic touch, offering an original, absorbing look at a largely unexplored corner of American culture.
THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON directed by David France (2017) Chronicles the life and mysterious death of celebrated LGBTQ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson, who was found floating in the Hudson River. Originally ruled a suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered. Paying tribute to Johnson’s important role in the LGBTQ movement, the film also laments the loss of a beloved figure who was a mother of sorts to many transgendered people in the city.
EVE’S BAYOU directed by Kasi Lemmons (1997) Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl, Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), discovers that her family’s affluent existence is merely a facade. A striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, the film layers terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
FRUITVALE STATION directed by Ryan Coogler (2013) Based on the true story of Oscar Grant III, the film takes place in the hours before his murder by a police officer on New Year’s Day in 2008 at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station of the title. Featuring the debut performance of Michael B. Jordan, the film, in its restraint, delivers a sobering portrayal of the consequences of unconscious bias and racism.
JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T. directed by Leslie Harris. (1992) A teen girl struggles to reconcile her desire for self-improvement with her rebellious nature and her lack of maturity in this coming-of-age drama, which won first-time director Leslie Harris a special jury prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival.
THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO directed by Joe Talbot. (2019) A moving wistful odyssey of a young man searching for home in a gentrified Bay Area community. Populated by skaters, squatters, street preachers, playwrights and other locals on the margins who attempt to lay claim to the community that has left them behind.
PRECIOUS directed by Lee Daniels (2009) Director Lee Daniels poured his own experiences of domestic volatility into this searing adaptation of Sapphire’s novel Push, about a Harlem girl whose journey to literacy may just set her free. Mo’Nique won an Oscar for her supporting role as Precious’ mother and launched the career of Gabourey Sidibe, playing the traumatized and then triumphant title character.
SLAM directed by Marc Levin (1998) Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes, Slam tells the story of Ray Joshua, an original, gifted young poet trapped in a war-zone housing project in Washington, D.C. One day he is arrested on petty drug charges and ends up jail, where he meets two people who can redirect his life: a prison gang leader or a beautiful female poet teaching a self-expression class for inmates.
SPRINTER directed by Storm Saulter (2019) Tells the story of a Jamaican teen who is burdened by an unstable father and an unruly older brother hopes a meteoric rise in track-and-field can reunite him with his mother, who has lived illegally in the U.S. for over a decade. Screened at Provincetown Jamaican Film Festival in 2019.
SAVE THE DATE! State of the Media Summit May 20, 2021
4th Annual The State of Media Summit (aka the Women’s Media Summit) presented by the Provincetown Film Society, The Geena Davis Institute, and The Representation Project will take place on Thursday, May 20th. Find more details in our upcoming March Newsletter.
The Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program is seeking submissions from emerging LBGTQ Filmmakers, ages 16-20 years old. The program is a three-month online initiative for emerging LGBTQ creatives who submit a short film or treatment that addresses the themes of ‘fitting in, standing out, being yourself,’ and who demonstrate an ability to work with a team of experienced mentors and professionals dedicated to helping them complete a quality short film. Deadline for submissions is March 3. Youth educators, please send inquiries to: email@example.com
WORTH CHECKING OUT
LGBTQ+ TV Representation Falls for First Time in 5 Years
An annual report found that 9.1 percent of characters scheduled to appear on prime-time broadcast series identified as L.G.B.T.Q. in the 2020-21 season, down from 10.2 percent.
For the first time in five years, LGBTQ representation on television decreased, an annual report by the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has found.
The findings were published recently in a report called “Where We Are on TV,” available at Glaad.org. It assessed representation in the 2020-21 season, defined as broadcast, cable and streaming shows expected to premiere new seasons between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021.
A report put out by Color of Change Hollywood is a first of its kind on how scripted crime shows represent the criminal justice system. Normalizing injustice found that the crime TV genre—the main way that tens of millions of people learn to think about the criminal justice system—advanced debunked ideas about crime, a false hero narrative about law enforcement, and distorted representations about Black people, other people of color and women. These shows rendered racism invisible and dismissed any need for police accountability. They made illegal, destructive and racist practices within the criminal justice system seem acceptable, justifiable and necessary—even heroic. The study found that the genre is also incredibly undiverse in terms of creators, writers and showrunners: nearly all white.
MEMBER IN THE NEWS
By Tracy Pease
The first time I met this member in the news she was volunteering at the little red fire station on Commercial Street for the Provincetown International Film Festival. Soon I would learn how much time she really spends in the firehouse (and other locales) throughout the year volunteering, donating her art to raise money for various causes, and serving others – literally as she does each week at SKIP – Soup Kitchen in Provincetown. Andrea Sawyer not only has a love of film, she is an artist and an activist for democracy, for inclusion and for people. PFS refers to the rare and precious humans that possess Andrea’s amalgam of aptitude as “artivists”.
Andrea, originally from Falmouth, Maine is what we call in our family “the first pancake” – the oldest child in her family. She has three sons (Charlie, Andrew & Ian), Sarah who she lovingly refers to as her “favorite daughter”, and nine grandchildren.
‘Andi’, first came to Ptown on vacation in 1995 with her husband Larry, when their youngest child left the nest. Having seen herself as an artist since she was five years old, she’d also had a successful career in real estate from 1992 until December 2014 when she dedicated her career full time to painting, primarily oil on linen and canvas.
“The first time I came here, we were driving down Route 6 in July. The sun was low bouncing off of the dunes. I had an epiphany and knew there was something about this place that gave me a distinct impression that I would someday live in the town that I had yet to see. I have that feeling every time I look at those dunes. We increased our visits more and more extending to 2 to 3 months each year. On our returns to Maine, I would sob all the way to Sagamore Bridge.”
When asked what inspired her to take her talent more seriously, she said “We were raising 4 children and had full-time careers. Until then, I only had enough time to dabble. But as empty nesters, I didn’t have any excuse not to. I’d wandered into the Kiley Court Gallery on my first visit here and fell in love with Bobby Cardinal’s work. I couldn’t wait to get home to paint, and paint I did. About five years later I took a week-long class from him to hone my skills. Although our styles are vastly different, that experience taught me to fight for my own style while making improvements that exist in my work today. I thank him for the artist I have become.”
In January of 2014 Andrea lost her husband of thirty years, Lawrence Sawyer. She describes him as a gentle and beautiful man of wise counsel who opened his life to her, her four children and eventually 8 grandchildren – (their ninth, Sadie was born after his death). “He was intelligent, my knight in shining armor; a man who loved his family.”
It will come as no surprise that Andrea craves the light in Provincetown. An avid world traveler she says “The light is so different from anywhere I’ve been. It’s the quality of light bouncing off the water around us. Everything is filled with that light.” She acknowledged that some similarities of light exist in Italy especially as one travels north and then declared about her beloved Provincetown, “the skin of the universe is thin here.”
Erudite, Andrea goes to bed most nights with a good book. Her devotion beyond art proffers to music, listening to the likes of The Three Tenors, Duke Ellington, Leonard Cohen, and this season a lot of Christmas music while she bakes or cooks large vats of yummy soup from scratch. Her daily living is a collection of encounters that broaden her perspectives of the world.
Andrea knits, which I refer to as her guilty pleasure, as she feels the need to steal time in the day to do so. After seeing her work online, I’m convinced that Jen Ellis of Vermont (currently under siege with requests for mittens similar to the ones she made for Bernie Sanders worn at the 2021 inauguration) would gladly accept Andrea’s help.
Ironically, in 2017, Andrea voraciously knitted “little kitty” hats for every member of her travel party, knitting even as they drove to Washington D.C. to join the Women’s March. There were nine hats in all, including one for her infant granddaughter. “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” For people of all ages, genders and ethnicities to amass together declaring that women’s rights are human rights resonating a familiar strain over centuries in our nation. Somehow the synchronicities of this particular talent and political events line up for Andrea like the light in Provincetown. Two words amply describe Andrea’s sense of indisputable hope regarding the new administration on Pennsylvania Avenue: “Looking forward”.
Andrea lives in-the-now, every minute with pursuits ranging from redecorating, service to others, nesting, taking walks, listening to a friend in need, self-study, self-improvement, indulging in ‘framily’ and making time for an eclectic selection of movie classics the likes of Harold & Maude, Casablanca, The Godfather, and Forrest Gump “for the sweetness” and Miracle on 34th Street “because it’s Christmas”.
When I was young my father was a projectionist in the fabulous old theaters in Portland, and as I was the oldest he would often take me to work with him on weekends. One of my earliest memories is watching The Wizard of Oz all by myself in the front row of the balcony of the State Theater, drinking orange soda and eating popcorn, while Daddy kept an eye on me from the projection booth.
A recent pursuit is learning to sail with ‘B’ (for Brian O’Malley), love of her life. “Brian had been my doctor. Both of us were widowed, and I became his ‘theater buddy’, he also had concert buddies and hiking buddies. At 71 (we’re two months apart) each of us assumed we were just too old and opinionated to find love again, but one night after he walked me home from the Provincetown Theatre he kissed me, and it was all she wrote. Oh, the boat, she’s a small Beetle Cat named ‘Granny.’ B is well-spoken, engaged, thoughtful, caring and loving. I enlisted him to serve at SKIP where we now work on Fridays. We work our asses off preparing 125 regular meals and 40 vegan meals every week. We’re a good pair and we complement one another.”
When I asked about their future, she said, “We have 28 ½ years left on our contract with an option to renew”.
On any given day, one can log onto Facebook and view Andrea’s gratitude journal. Daily she describes what she’s thankful for, what she’s looking forward to and an awareness, new or revisited. Inside those entries one will identify a pattern of attributes that circumscribe the remarkable woman within.
Exclusive Films at Waters Edge Virtual Cinema!
Virtual Cinema delivers a wide variety of exclusive new films every week.
Enjoy art house movies at home.
Closed Cinema offers private parties, starry auction — Cape Cod Times
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Save the Date!!!
Provincetown Film Festival 2021
June 16-25, 2021
Now accepting submissions!
Late Deadline: February 8
THE LAUNCH with Julie Rockett
The famous psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote, “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
If these are our standards for beauty, then let us crown Michelle Boyaner our new Miss America! Was it close? No, not really, especially when she and her wife Barbara Green clinched the talent competition back in 2015 with their documentary, Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson. It was this #PIFF Award-winning documentary that first brought Michelle to Provincetown. We’ve been fortunate to have her return as a resident of our Women’s Filmmaking Institute and as a leader during the Women’s Media Summits.
She has spent the last five years bringing her upcoming documentary, It’s Not a Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents, to fruition. While we eagerly await its release, I caught up with Michelle and found out about her ‘lowbrow and proud’ appreciation of films, a plan to remake Urban Cowboy, and the role Provincetown has played in shaping her films.
Julie Rockett: Your early narrative short, You’re Still Young, is about a young gay woman who is visited by her older self who warns her to hang in there and reassures her that she’ll be okay. If you could visit your younger filmmaking self, what advice would you give?
Michelle Boyaner: Don’t put anything on your credit card. [laughs] I’d tell myself, ‘it’s sacrifice, no matter what.” I would do everything the same but I would make more of them. And I will, I will continue to make more films.
JR: How did you find the story of Edith Lake Wilkinson?
MB: These subjects find us. That’s been true throughout all of our filmmaking. Our friends, Jane (Edith’s grand-niece) and Tess, approached us with the story of Edith. And I am forever grateful because that story brought us to Provincetown. We discovered the town through its history and Edith’s history. Jane became like ‘Dorothy’ in The Wizard of Oz meeting all these wonderful characters along the way and the town embraced us.
JR: Were you introduced to film by your parents?
MB: No, not at all. The first time I remember being impacted by a film was from the rainy day schedule in middle school. If there was rain, out came the projector and their one film, Brian’s Song. I saw this depressing film about a dying college student like three times in one year. But I didn’t get movies at home. It was all TV and variety shows like Donny and Marie and Helen Reddy and Carol Burnett. That helped make me into a not-fancy-film person. My early influences were Bugsy Malone and Ice Castles. I am the least pretentious film lover.
JR: Do you recall the first movie you saw in a theatre?
MB: It would have been in a drive-in. Probably the Highway 39 Drive-In with me in footie pajamas. Hmm… I remember in 1982, my good friend, DeDee’s sister Michelle was in a movie and I remember standing in front of that film poster for Grease 2.
JR: Wait, DeDee’s sister is Michelle Pfieffer?!
MB: Yes! We were friends in high school. And there we all were seeing a movie with someone we knew which was memorable. As for other movies, I always liked things that were relatable. Like, I went to camp so there’s Little Darlings… But I have to say that one film that profoundly effected me was Defending Your Life because it showed what you could do in terms of suspending disbelief in storytelling. Because I had always tried to make up in my mind what had happened to my baby brother who died when I was three. Defending Your Life clearly imagined what the afterlife looked like and incorporated one’s real life into. It’s impact on me was huge.
JR: So I had a friend whose younger sister wanted to get a tattoo and her advice to her was, “Keep in mind, at one point my favorite film was La Bamba.” Is there a movie that you look back on and don’t find as profound now?
MB: That would probably be Bugsy Malone because these were kids in adult situations, drinking in a night club, smoking, driving cars and it was a musical. It was glorious!
JR: So do you regret your Bugsy Malone tattoo? But seriously, why did they cast it with kids?
MB: Because it was the take. It’s like my desire to remake Urban Cowboy with all women.
MB: Oh yes! I would love to do that!
JR: What’s your favorite documentary?
MB: For sure, Grey Gardens. The Maysles just followed them like flies on the wall and that’s the type of documentary I love the most. Harlan County, USA and Sarah Polley’s The Stories We Tell. It’s the story of Sarah’s family and a family secret. She didn’t have access to b-roll so she cast actors and created this incredible b-roll to go along with certain parts of the storytelling. I haven’t seen anything like that before and I just love her work in general.
JR: Finally, what makes Provincetown special to you.
MB: Oh god…. I literally tear up. I have been poked with a fork several times and Provincetown seeped in. It’s on a soul level. There is something about its soul that speaks to me and I can’t articulate what it is other than a feeling of peacefulness and freedom. Knowing that someone like Edith Lake Wilkinson went there and could live and create her art and many years later we came back and got to spend days writing and walking its beautiful empty streets…. it was like patchouli to me. It skunked me but I didn’t want to take a tomato juice bath. And it’s there, there forever. It’s so special and hopefully it can continue to be that. It’s a sickness and a love. I hope that a Starbucks never opens there.