[Letter from the E.D.] [Member in the News] [Institute Updates]
[Cinema Updates] [Festival Updates] [The Launch]

Letter from the Executive Director

July 2021

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival – both in person and virtually. We had max capacity at all of our venues and events, with a joyous and warm energy where everyone felt welcome and part of our festival community! 

I want to take this opportunity to recognize all the filmmakers, sponsors, donors, our staff,  board of directors, and the volunteers who made this festival possible.  Your selfless dedication reaches far beyond the screen and keeps this organization and our special community going and growing!!  I am so proud to play a role in this with you!

The screenings have just begun….our Water’s Edge Cinema has finally opened after 15 months of closure, we will be having special screenings throughout the summer both at Water’s Edge and the Mary Heaton Vorse house,  in Motta Field during Family Week, and be on the lookout for special outdoor screenings on MacMillan Pier.  It is time for some joy in our lives and it’s finally time to go back to the movies!
— Blythe Frank

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back,
that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.
Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.

~ Mary Oliver

Let’s Go Back to the Movies!

Waters Edge Cinema is OPEN again and we can’t wait to see you at 237 Commercial Street, Whalers’ Wharf 3rd Floor


By Tracy Pease

Mike Wright (photo by Ed Christie)

This month’s member in the news has called Provincetown home for almost 40 years.  A graphic artist turned sculptor from Baltimore, Mike Wright and her partner Sheila have been gracing Provincetown cinema and the festival for decades. Her favorite: the Film Art Series – a member favorite and collaboration with the Provincetown Arts Association and Museum (PAAM) programmed at Waters Edge Cinema by Howard Karren.    Maybe it’s not a coincidence that she came from the same town as our most famous and edgy icon – John Waters.  

Mike started her life in Ptown as an innkeeper – who became a card-carrying member of the Provincetown Women Innkeepers.  In 1984 Mike opened Plums Bed & Breakfast.  

Plums was a large Dutch Gambrel on the corner of Pearl and Bradford Streets, built by a Whaling Captain in 1860.  Mike & Sheila worked tirelessly to completely renovate the interior and sold the inn in 1999.  

“In 1995” Mike recounts, “Sheila took over full time management of the inn so I could dedicate myself full-time to my art.  Looking back over my art career, I now realize how each particular creative development shaped my artistic success.”

Mike recalls, “as a kid in Maryland, I was always drawing or making something in our house, much to the dismay of my perfectionist Mother! I remember the time I used her kitchen mixer to whip up hot wax to sculpt.  My education started in Catholic Elementary school, the Nuns saw I was artistic and would always ask me to draw something for their bulletin boards. With little to no art classes offered in school, I took classes in an after-school program”.Mike doesn’t just enjoy the movies, in 2015 she was in a movie.  “Filmmaker Andrea Meyerson put me in CLAMBAKE [a documentary about 30 years of women inn keepers in Provincetown].  She’s reached out a lot in the past year and asked me to be on Zoom viewings for the Q&A.  Each time she had about 80-90 gals watching it… she is great!” beams Mike.

Mike graduated from Towson University in Baltimore County, MD working in a variety of media, from traditional painting and printmaking, to experimental sculpture. “I graduated with honors and a BS in art education.  I taught K-6 art in Baltimore County instructing kids to create all art forms from painting and block printing to huge paper mâché sculptures that were exhibited at the local library, to outdoor snow sculptures colored with paint in squirt bottles, to stop animation videos entered into a competition at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Watching these kids, I learned a lot about the value of “playing” when making art.

Later Mike joined a design firm to become a full-time graphic designer and went on to learn newspaper advertising, ad design, as well as building structure and space.  She taught design and illustration night classes at Catonsville Community College in Maryland. Later joining KBH Graphics, one of the oldest design firms in Baltimore City and assigned clients, perfecting a sense of design, color and space definitely boosted my creative confidence.   

Mike also recounts, “In 1984, I decided to start a Bed & Breakfast in Provincetown, MA, where I could also take workshops in printmaking, oil painting and watercolor at PAAM  (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) and be around other artists. In 1993, I took a workshop at PAAM with sculptor Paul Bowen (a previous Adolph Gottlieb Foundation Grant winner) and discovered that working with found materials in 3-dimensions was the perfect fit for me.”

“This was my AHA moment” said Mike.  “I loved all of the process, from searching for materials (particularly old previously painted wood) and dragging it to the studio, to organizing the wood by color, pulling old nails, hammering and cutting to create sculptural forms.”

Mike says, “All these years later, making sculpture from found previously painted wood is still irresistible. As debris, it seems unpromising, but that lack is also its appeal. The peeling paint, the color—scrubbed by salt waves, sand, or human use—allows the viewer to recognize in the wood, evidence of a previous life as boat, floorboard, shelf or container. I search beaches, streets and dumpsters for it. My principal parameter is not to paint that wood, whose patina is impossible to duplicate. I like best the moment I place pieces of old painted wood together and see relationships of color and form begin to take shape, achieving the object through building up and by modifying its form with minimal carpentry—cutting, curving, sandwiching and joining.”

“In 2002, I decided to make art more of a priority and went to work at PAAM  (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) full time and also volunteered on the artist-led PAAM Exhibition Committee. For 10 years, I enjoyed an intimate relationship with the historical artwork of the Provincetown Art Colony. I was in charge of the PAAM facility but had time to curate historical exhibitions from the PAAM permanent art collection, as well as, contemporary exhibitions. I was able to assimilate the forms and palettes of early Modernist painters, particularly Blanche Lazzell and the Expressionist painter Robert Motherwell and even interpret their 2-dimensional paintings into 3-dimensions sculptures. This affinity was the subject of the 2009 Provincetown Arts Magazine article Mike Wright and the Modernist Continuum.”

I retired from PAAM in 2012 and have worked seasonally at Alden Gallery in Provincetown, ever since. I also exhibit my art at Alden Gallery and have been surprised by the recognition of my work from a variety of folks. I collaborated with the short documentary filmmaker Marnie Crawford Samuelson to provide a unique opportunity for the Provincetown Film Festival and the Online New England Film Festival ( audiences to witness my creative process. That 2014 short doc, Inside Motherwell’s Dumpster, shows me retrieving wood from the demolition of Robert Motherwell’s Provincetown studio, which he called Sea Barn, and creating a sculpture I called Deconstructed Sea Barn.”

Continuing to advance her career, Wright applied for grants and as a result, in 2014, won a Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant. This allowed her to create a website and gain a wider audience for her sculpture. She began to see how “success breeds success.” With the prestige of winning the Pollock Krasner, more invitations to exhibit were extended: a solo show at the St. Botolph Club in Boston; a solo show at the Cape Cod Museum of Art; an invitation, in 2017, to show in Wood As Muse at the Art Museum Complex Duxbury, where she was interviewed about her art by PBS/WGBH Senior Arts Editor Jared Bowen and this aired on “Open Studio”. 

In 2017, Mike was chosen by the JFK Hyannis Museum to participate in Art Inspired by a Presidential Home and asked to create art with materials salvaged from the renovation of JFK and Jackie Kennedy’s home on the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis, MA. In 2019, she was asked by the Edward Gorey Museum to create art from material that Gorey collected, for an exhibition and auction. 

Since 1993, she has had 30 solo exhibitions and her work has been included in 38 invitational, 62 juried and 98 group exhibitions. Besides being the Artist in Residence at Cape Cod Community College in 2009, she won the Michael E. Deluty Outstanding Sculpture Prize at the Cambridge Art Association’s 9th National Prize Show, in 2004 she was awarded the Berkshire Taconic A.R.T. Fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, in 1998 the PAAM (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) National Competition resulting in a solo Museum exhibition in 1999. 

Mike has exhibited in private and university galleries in Japan, New York City, East Hampton, Maryland, Montana, Florida, Louisiana, Boston, Cape Cod and Provincetown. My sculptures are in the private collections of American sculptor Grace Knowlton, playwright Edward Albee and fashion designer Philip Lim, among others, and in the permanent collections of PAAM and the Cape Cod Museum of Art. 


NEW EXPANDED BENEFITS include exclusive programming from local filmmakers, merch with custom artwork by local artists, and discounts on Waters Edge Cinema. Join at any level and reap all the cinema-tastic rewards!

Women Filmmaker’s Residency Program

Christine K Walker (Producer, ACSFP Advisory Board Member), Sam Kann (Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program Fellow), Lí Buzzard (Actor, MIA & LUCY), Glyne M Pease (ACSFP Coordinator, Women Filmmaker’s Residency Producer)

This year, Provincetown Film Society was fortunate enough to welcome three residents to town during PIFF 2021: Actor and star of DAVID’S FRIEND, Nora Burns; Director of WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR, Jane Schoenbrun; and Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program fellow, Sam Kann. While several Women Filmmaker’s Residency Program recipients have joined the Film Society in Provincetown, this is the inaugural year of The Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program, and the first time welcoming a young filmmaker to stay and engage with the other artists. 

For one week during the festival, residents stayed at the historic Mary Heaton Vorse House and celebrated their accomplishments as filmmakers in the nation’s oldest art colony. The program fostered a safe artistic space for the filmmakers, who sat down every morning with mentors from varying positions within the industry. In addition to being in the festival space, the filmmakers were able to screen their films and discuss future projects, without competition or agenda, as artists of the Provincetown Film Festival. As the Provincetown Film Institute moves forward, the organization hopes to host more residents in its residency programs, and help more marginalized filmmakers tell their stories. To donate, visit

Adrienne Truscott (Director, DAVID’S FRIEND) and Nora Burns (Women Filmmaker’s Resident, Actor/Writer, DAVID’S FRIEND)
Glyne M Pease (ACSFP Coordinator, Women Filmmaker’s Residency Producer), Jane Schoenbrun (Director, WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR), Melissa Ader

THANK YOU from PIFF 2021!

Lisa Viola, Artistic Director

Sending an enormously heartfelt THANK YOU to all of the filmmakers, special guests, panelists, moderators, distributors, press, sponsors, patrons, staff, volunteers, AND festival goers that helped make the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival one to remember! We set out to create a festival that would allow those able to attend in person feel welcome and aimed to bring a little bit of Provincetown to everyone who participated from home. From our enchanted screenings under the stars at the Wellfleet Drive-In, to our triumphant return to Waters Edge Cinema and the elegant Mary Heaton Vorse House, and a very special community night at Herring Cove, we felt the love and excitement of watching films together again as a flock! Thank you so much for joining us and we’re already looking forward to 2022!

PIFF 2021 Filmmaker Celebration Photo By Mae Gammino


by Julie Rockett

I got my Fauci ouchies and I was more than ready to see people in real life again. It’s been so long. I got to do this thing called hugging people. It’s awesome. You should try it. The photo above by Mae Gammino from the Filmmakers’ Celebration at Baxter’s Landing captures the ebullience that beamed from all of us now that we’re finally emerging from quarantine. I can’t wait to see what our upcoming events like the Jamaican Film Festival, Family Week, and Women’s Week will look like. 

Below is my yearbook from #PIFF2021. Thank you to everyone that follows us on social media @ptownfilm and likes and shares our posts. If I see you in person you have a high five coming your way. Until then, I send you my gratitude and best wishes. May you find excellent parking spaces whenever you travel to Provincetown. 

Thank you also to the following:

The filmmakers that attended the Provincetown Film Festival. It was wonderful to meet you and enjoy your hard work. 

The great food sponsors like Box Lunch and Spiritus Pizza. Without your food, I would have spent June 16-25 subsisting solely on popcorn and gin and tonics. 

The Crown & Anchor for hosting our closing night party with the team from BEING BEBE.

James, my firehouse volunteer, for playing tunes and selling the hell out of our Ryan Landry-designed merchandise.

To Ryan Landry and his grandson, Luca, for creating and selling the coolest merchandise for Provincetown Film Society. 

Penny Champagne/Scott Martino, nobody is lovelier in a life preserver and Calvins than you! Thank you for hosting our Back to the Future Community Event.

Harrison and Bob from Wake Up in Provincetown! For having me on your show. Your infectious energy turned me into a morning person for a brief time.

My co-workers, for just being there. It meant the world to me.

My family for taking such good care of yourself while I got to run around Provincetown meeting talented people. 

And finally to my wonderful Mom who passed away just before the start of the film festival. When I called home after the opening night party at my first festival seven years ago, she said, “How was it being surrounded by all those handsome men? Were they terribly respectful?” During the festival I often heard her saying to me the same thing she always said to me (true or not) when I was going through tough times, “Dahlin’, people are just jealous because you’re gorgeous and amazing.” My love you, Ma.



[Letter from the E.D.] [Member in the News] [Institute Updates]
[Cinema Updates] [Festival Updates] [The Launch]

Letter from the Executive Director

Provincetown has been snowy and cold, but PFS has been bringing the heat! In February, we closed out our most successful auction in PFS’ 23-year history, raising over $76,000. We could not have done it without all the generously donated items (and experiences!) and for all the bidders that took our auction raise higher than we could have imagined. We are so very grateful to everyone that participated and for all your support.  This event was the culmination of creativity and countless hours put in by our board and staff, the incredible marketing campaign spearheaded by our own Ellen Birmingham, and a social media tour de force by Julie Rockett.  We have set the stage for sustainability having launched 2021 in this way. 

We now look to put our efforts into launching a robust Membership Drive, to expand our family of Uncommon Birds both far and wide.  Our team is building out our Virtual Cinema through our Water’s Edge Plus programming, and we will be launching a variety of new membership benefits over the coming months. Please stay tuned and we hope you will all consider either becoming a member if you are not currently one, or gifting a membership if you are. 

Planning and programming for the 2021 PIFF Hybrid Film Festival is also underway, and will take place June 16-25th. In order to create a safe and robust hybrid film festival for 2021, the Provincetown Film Festival will offer expanded dates, expanded audience participation and greater opportunity for engagement, in accordance with State and Town Covid-19 guidelines. In our 23rd year, the Festival will highlight our long-standing tradition of showcasing top-tier new films from around the world while continuing to prioritize supporting first-time filmmakers, women filmmakers, and diverse filmmakers from underrepresented communities. There will be nights at the drive-in, outdoor screenings at the Mary Heaton Vorse house and other outdoor venues.  More details will follow in the coming months. 

In the meantime, stay warm and stay uncommon.

Sending gratitude,


Member in the News

by Tracy Pease

Mike Syers at the Wellfleet Drive-In, Opening Night 2020 PIFF Reimagined

We are proud to welcome Mike Syers to the board of the  Provincetown Film Society (PFS). 

Mike is a documentary filmmaker & photographer and has been a PFS supporter and an attendee of the Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF) since its inception.   Mike’s first film BECAUSE YOU’RE HERE, a documentary short about Kenneth Lonergan the Provincetown Town Crier, received the 2018 PIFF Best New England Short Award.     

Mike recently retired as a Partner at Ernst & Young after leading their NY & Boston commercial real estate & hospitality advisory practice.  He currently serves on the Board of Governors & the Executive Committee of CREFC, the trade association for the  commercial real estate finance industry in the US.  

As a PFS card carrying member, Mike has attended the Women’s Media Summit, participated in a PFS strategic session in New York with a team of professionals to move the development process forward, and has supported many important PFS initiatives around developing diverse voices in film.   During Mike’s career he lead many initiatives and helped form several organizations that focus on Corporate Americas role in creating a more inclusive LGBTQ+ workplace.  He co-founded EY’s LGBTQ+ group in the Americas and worked on LGBTQ+ rights projects with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Out Leadership, the Obama administration, Clinton Global Initiative and the United Nations.    

Mike is known by some as the Provincetown Swim4Life photographer and also serves on the board of The Provincetown Community Compact which is a community building & philanthropic organization supporting the cultural well being of Provincetown, its people, and the natural environment of the Lower Cape. 

Looking for your film-loving flock? Become a member of the Provincetown Film Society! Join at any level and reap all the cinema-tastic rewards! Feature your news in our newsletter, discounts, and more!

Institute Updates


The deadline to apply for The Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program has been extended! The program offers new and emerging LGBTQ filmmakers aged 16-20 the chance to work with a team of mentors and professionals to make a short film of their own. To apply, simply submit a short film script or script treatment that addresses the themes of “not fitting in, standing out, being yourself”. The shorts will screen at the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival. Application fee waivers are available to those facing financial burden. For any further inquiries, please contact


Women’s History Month Watch Party: A sampling of noteworthy films that highlight the changemakers in modern political history. 

ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés (2020)

An impressive examination of the long history of voter suppression in the US produced in part by Stacy Abrams, a powerful force in current American politics. The film interweaves personal experiences with activism and historical insight to provide a compelling look into the barriers to voting while debunking the myth of pervasive voter fraud. 

CHISOLM: 72: UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED directed by Shola Lynch (2016)

Pioneering politician Shirley Chisholm is the subject of this lauded documentary. The nation’s first African-American congresswoman, the passionate Chisholm launches a campaign for the United States presidency in the 1972 election, and wins an impressive amount of support, given the era and the still-prevailing prejudices of many voters. The film takes a close look at her presidential run, providing interviews with Chisholm and the dedicated individuals who worked on her groundbreaking campaign.

HILLARY directed by Nanette Burstein (2020)

If you think you know everything about the First Lady Hillary Clinton, this four-part documentary series is an insightful and powerful exploration of Clinton’s life and legacy. A divisive political figure, a successful lawyer in her own right, and possibly the world’s most famous wronged wife, Clinton gives her own account of how she got to where she is today.

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE  directed by Rachel Lears (2018)

A young bartender in the Bronx (the unstoppable Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia (Paula Jean Swearengin), Amy Vilela, a single mother from Las Vegas, and Cori Bush, a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates to challenge powerful incumbents in Congress. While three of the young heroes lost their races, Ocasio-Cortez’s race went on to become the most shocking political upsets in recent American history. 

POLITICAL ANIMALS directed by Jonah Markowitz (2016)

Political Animals is a powerful, award winning documentary about four openly gay California lawmakers — all women — who took the fight for equality from the streets into the halls of government laying the groundwork for marriage equality and social justice. 

RBG  directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen (2018)

An intimate portrait of an unlikely rock star: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With unprecedented access, the filmmakers explore how her early legal battles changed the world for women.

This month, in honor of Deaf History Month, we also recommend the excellent THE SOUND OF METAL directed by Darius Marder (2020). An evocative look at the experiences of the deaf community brought to life by Riz Ahmed’s passionate performance. 

March 31 is also International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated to bring awareness to transgender people and their identities as well as recognize those who helped fight for rights for transgender people. A few films worth revisiting are PFS’s Fellow Filmmaker Jennie Livingston’s PARIS IS BURNING (1990), a documentary about ball culture in the 80’s and the inspiration to the fabulous series POSE; BOYS DON’T CRY directed by Kimberly Peirce in 1993. A devastating and unflinching account based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was tragically murdered by acquaintances who discovered his gender identity, the film is also a beautiful love story, underscoring the power of love in even the darkest times. Naturally, we can’t omit PIFF 2018 Filmmaker on the Edge Honoree Sean Baker’s film TANGERINE (2015), the story of a transgender sex worker who learns that her pimp/boyfriend has been cheating on her.

Waters Edge Cinema

Waters Virtual Cinema delivers a wide variety of exclusive new films every week. Enjoy art house movies at home with your flock.

Member Discounts now available at Waters Edge Virtual Cinema!

Make our home your own and rent Waters Edge Cinema with your flock. Add a custom marquee message for that special someone!

For more information, please contact the Provincetown Film Society office at 508-487-3456 (FILM) or email

Please allow 7 days advanced notice for reservation dates. Waters Edge Cinema COVID-19 policies must be adhered to at all times.

Provincetown Film Festival 2021

Save the Date for the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival!!
Ten days of unflinching cinema, June 16-25, 2021.

Submissions have now closed for this year. Thank you to all who entered!

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT! Buy a 2021 PIFF All Access Streaming Pass for just $125 or $100 for PFS Members!

  • A Streaming Pass provides streaming access to all virtual film screenings throughout the festival from Wednesday, June 16 – Friday, June 25, 2021 (U.S. Only)
  • Enjoy feature-length narrative and documentary films, our shorts programs, and Q&A with filmmakers after select films.
  • Films can be streamed once throughout the festival. 
  • Includes access to Conversations with Award Honorees

An email will immediately follow the purchase of your PASS, providing details about how to log in to browse and stream as many films as you like starting at 6:00pm June 16 until 11:59pm June 25,  2021.

The Launch | Mo Rocca

By Julie Rockett

Mo Rocca, Photo CR: John Paul Filo/CBS

I was twelve years old when I first saw a then 19-year-old Mo Rocca perform. He initially wore an enormous fat suit and then miraculously turned into a diva in a red dress with the tiniest waist in the role of Diane Foratwinkie. I was mesmerized. I remember looking at the playbill and thinking that his name couldn’t be real (who am I to judge?). But his name and performance stuck with me so it was no surprise to see him on The Daily Show and CBS Sunday Morning, although based on his earlier performances, I would have predicted that he would be in a live-action Godspell TV revival rather than the ‘news’. 

My father and I have a wonderful ritual of listening to Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me and Mo’s own podcast Mobituaries. His quick wit and historical references are never lost on my Dad and listening to him laugh at Mo’s bon mots is a joy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to express this to the gracious Mo Rocca and discuss great films with him.

Julie Rockett: What films were you obsessed with as a kid?

Mo Rocca: There were three: The Wizard of Oz, the original King Kong from 1931, and Hitchcock’s The Birds. I remember The Birds being on Channel 5 a lot when I was a kid and it made a real impact upon me. I think all three were thrilling and also terrifying. I think the Wicked Witch of the West was so unbelievably scary, like pure evil on the level of Iago or Hitler, which is what I think really makes it work. I think there’s something dream-like quality to them. They all are things that could happen in a screwed up dream, like going to an island with a giant ape and dinosaurs. 

JR: How did you end up seeing King Kong at such a young age?

MR: I feel like it was always on TV on Sundays. King Kong is one of those movies that if it’s on, to this day, I’m going to watch it. Its dialogue is spare, which I love, and it tells you the story through pictures. 

JR: What documentaries do you love?

MR: I really liked The Mayor of Castro Street which was about Harvey Milk. I also loved the recording of the album of Sondheim’s Company.

JR: I love that one! Have you seen the Documentary Now! Satire of it? Paula Pell is amazing as Elaine Stritch!

MR: I need to see that. There’s another documentary, 51 Birch Street, that I found devastating. It’s about a marriage and a son discovering what was really happening in that marriage. It’s simply devastating. 

JR: Did it just take a left turn?

MR: Basically, there were clues all along, and the documentary maker started by recording events around his parents 50th anniversary, which I think were intended just for personal use. He discovers the sacrifices his parents made to keep the family intact. It does take twists and turns and makes anyone reflect on their own parents’ marriage.

JR: When you were at the Hasty Pudding Club, did you have memorable moments with any of your honorees?

MR: My freshman year, we honored Lucille Ball and Steve Martin. Steve Martin was really hot at the time. He had just completed Roxanne and he had successfully transitioned from successful stand up to leading man. One of my cast mates asked him why he agreed to be Man of the Year and he replied, “I did it because I heard I would be honored alongside Lucille Ball.” I remember thinking in my 19-year-old mind that, “Lucille Ball is of my grandmother’s generation but Steve Martin is cool.” It was a realization for me that true talent transcends generations and honors each other. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense because Lucille Ball was a genius. But at the time it surprised that someone as cool as he would bow down to her. Nevertheless, it’s still really cool. 

JR: What have you binged during quarantine?

MR: I thought It’s a Sin on HBO Max was so good. There are things you like that don’t stay with you and there are things you like that do stay with you. It’s hard to predict what stays with you. I think It’s a Sin is more likely to stay with a gay man so it’s not a shocker that it stayed with me. It’s also like, ‘Damn! That British acting training is something.’ There are performances that are so good that in a couple of cases, it’s hard for you to believe that they are not the actual people they are portraying. You have to remind yourself that they’re actors. I also found that Ted Lasso is a real tonic for the time. It’s hard to pull off something hopeful and buoyant without it turning saccharine, and it doesn’t do that. It’s really good.

JR: Is there something about It’s a Sin that keeps it on your mind and resonates with you?

MR: Part of what I found so compelling is that I came of age at a time when AIDS was known and terrifying. I think that for a lot of people around my age, you can’t help but contemplate the math and think, ‘if I had been born five years earlier, would I still be alive?’ I turned twelve in 1981, when the series starts and when people didn’t know much about it, but were terrified of it. The characters in the series are roughly only five years older than me and it is such a starkly different situation for them. 

JR: We honored Larry Kramer a few years ago and he was so frail but he was such a force of nature and lately I’ve really loved hearing about his friendship with Fauci. That people could hear each other. That Fauci could get past the insults and still say, ‘you know you got a point there. Your evidence is solid.’ And Kramer could say, ‘You’re a son of a bitch but you’re my friend.’ It’s a discourse that’s sorely lacking in these times…

MR: Agreed.

JR: If you were to program a series of musicals in Provincetown, what would you pick? 

MR: That’s a tough question, because you don’t want to pick something that everyone’s seen.

JR: Yes, but you want to make sure you have sing-a-long moments from the popular ones like The Muppet Movie

MR: I once did a story on the A Christmas Carol and went to the Dickens’ Christmas Carol Museum in London for it. They said that they think that the best version is the Muppet Christmas Carol and they didn’t say that ironically. Let’s see… I like The Harvey Girls. When Doris Day died, I looked at Calamity Jane again and that has a bunch of great numbers, although that might be more suited for Women’s Week. Little Shop of Horrors is also a great one. Rick Moranis and Steve Martin are outstanding. 

JR: Finally, are there any movies you love that are not necessarily well-known or well-regarded?

MR: I loved the film Earthquake. I couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than it and its all-star cast of Ava Gardener and Charlton Heston. I looked at TV Guide as a teenager and saw that it had only 2.5 stars and I felt wounded. The other one that was terribly reviewed was The Champ with Ricky Schroeder and John Voight. I think it’s considered dreck but I cried my eyes out watching it… along with Black Stallion

JR: Thank you for your time. I hope you get to program some musicals here in the future!

Julie Rockett

Provincetown Film Society

The Launch

With Julie Rockett

As we plan #PIFF2021, my hopes and plans for this summer change weekly. Sometimes, I feel like normality is around the corner and sometimes I feel like it’s a world away. When the latter feeling takes over, I found a couple of shows that have lifted that heavy mood. One is Desus & Mero, a show that literally has me laughing out loud. I miss listening to funny friends banter and this is a wonderful substitute for the real thing. 

My other recommendation is WandaVision. Let me first state that I’m not a huge fan of live action superhero productions, but I love this show. It’s like Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking with a cape. Don’t let a paucity of Marvel movie knowledge stop you from watching this. I’ve found there’s always a kind helpful nerd around to fill in the details.

When my niece was about six years old, she told me that when she’s feeling down she types the word ‘puppies’ into YouTube to feel better. My recommendation to you if you’re feeling isolated and blue is to type ‘Jamie Denbo’ into YouTube. As soon as you do, you’ll realize that this is the woman that has repeatedly had you in stitches in The Heat, Orange is the New Black, Spy, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She created the iconic character Beverly Ginsburg, a character who’s as familiar as she is nuts, and hosted the hysterical Ronna & Beverly podcast and show for many years. Last year her own series American Princess (based on her experience working at Renaissance Fairs) debuted on Lifetime. She is now hard at work on two upcoming series. Despite that, she had me hysterically laughing over how much better the North Shore is than the South Shore and she introduced me to my new favorite drinking game, “Drink every time an r gets dropped in a Boston movie.”

Julie Rockett: What are you working on now?

Jamie Denbo: I am a recurring guest star on the new Annie Murphy (of Schitt’s Creek) series, Kevin Can F*#k Himself. Annie is amazing. The show is so cool and weird and bold and freaky. I hope people love it. I play a real Boston garbage bag.

I’m writing and producing on a show called Rebel starring Katey Sagal, Andy Garcia, and John Corbett. It was created by Krista Vernoff who runs Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a one-hour legal dramedy that’s inspired by present-day Erin Brockovich. So I’m busy, which is great, especially during a fucking pandemic. 

I’ve transitioned more into writing and producing instead of performing which is awesome because it’s nice to be able to age gracefully off camera and not continually be told that I’m too old or too fat or too middle-aged.

JR: They say these things to your face?

JD: Yes. Yes. I was told that I was too old at age 43 to play the wife of a 57-year-old. Soooo, that was fun. But when you’re a writer/producer people don’t talk to you like you’re stupid. You usually get better parking. Because when you’re an actor and you’re not 1 through 5 on the call sheet, people underestimate your intelligence. Sometimes that’s deserved and sometimes it’s really not. So I’m happy to be in a better position now. 

JR: You know I loved your scene on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

JD: That was such a life highlight for me. When Rachel Bloom tweeted that American Princess was the sister show to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, it’s like I could’ve been done, just packed it all in because it warmed me from the inside. I was the biggest Crazy Ex-Girlfriend fan. I try not to be such a dork about it but it was everything I loved in one place. It came at a time when we were trying to get the kids to watch TV with us. It became something we all bonded around.

JR: I bet the kids loved the song “Period Sex”.

JD: Guess what? My children learned about menstruation, abortion, UTIs, feminism, mental illness… and I know this sounds ridiculous but it opened up real conversations in our house and I feel like our kids have such a healthy relationship with these topics because they were presented with humor and authenticity. And through the lens of those characters, it was all accessible. It was an amazing experience for us as a family. We still listen to the music. The show’s casting was amazing, too. I’m forever grateful to the creators of it.

JR: Speaking of the creators, last year I spoke with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s co-creator, Aline Brosh McKenna. She said that she really liked working with mothers because they know how to use time efficiently.

JD: Oh, absolutely! The only people that should be running shows are women for that reason. Mothers are inherently better at effectively using time.

JR: What movie was formative for you?

JD: Private Benjamin. My series American Princess  was described as Private Benjamin at the Renaissance Festival because, to me, there was nothing funnier or more relatable than a Jewish-American princess being yanked out of her comfort zone. This woman who had a very specific life laid out for her and a path she was supposed to follow and things did not turn out that way and then she makes a choice to end up in the army. 

Another great thing that I learned about that film was how involved Goldie Hawn was as a producer. Here’s this slight, sexy blonde who I’m sure could have been underestimated many times and was just the dancer from Laugh-In but she was a total fucking powerhouse. This was a woman driving this story and it was her journey and it was super empowering and hilarious. It’s an amazing film!

JR: Do you have a favorite Boston film?

JD: Obviously, The Heat cuz I’m in it. Look, I am not made of stone. I root for any Boston movie where they get the accents right. People will be happy with Kevin Can F*#! Himself. They did a really good job and it wasn’t easy to do an entire series with the Boston twang… It’s hard because Boston is its own character in movies and it’s a special and unique thing. I often feel very protective of it. And I have great pride in seeing it up there.

JR: I couldn’t bring myself to see Manchester-By-The-Sea…

JD: Okay, as you get older, by virtue of being on this planet longer, you start to experience tragedy. Your friends and your circle… It’s inevitable and I find myself a lot less interested in the entertainment industry’s reflection of tragedy. That movie was very well done but I found it to be a two hour long test of emotional endurance.

One of the things I love about working on the show Rebel is that Erin Brockovich is someone who has made a career out of supporting the little guy to fight injustice. It is such a pleasure to work on. We’re fictionalizing a bit and making it really fucking fun. We have Katey Sagal in hot leather pants telling off horrible people. 

JR: Is there anything you’re bingeing right now?

JD: Right now, all the British baking shows and I just binged I May Destroy You which I fucking loved. Michaela Coel is maybe the most watchable being I’ve ever seen. I want to stare at her face because every thought she has is so surprising but you realize it’s what you would have thought if you were in her soul at that moment. It is incredibly relatable. It’s a hopeful show and you feel her optimism and strength throughout the series. You somehow know that whatever happens, whatever she discovers about the sexual assault that she revisits throughout the series, you know she’s going to be okay. She displays a level of confidence and joy in her life that we should all aspire to. I found it to be such a healthy representation of moving through trauma and living your life while facing it and moving forward. What a graceful, beautiful message presented in a unique way. 

JR: I imagine Michaela Coel would be a dream to collaborate with. 

JD: She’s too cool. She would never talk to me. 

JR: Oh please.

JD: Are you kidding? I wouldn’t talk to me if I was her. Please. But I would love to work with Sarah Silverman because it has been amazing to watch her evolution. From someone who relied on a tomboy, accessible sexuality to somebody who is much more soulful and aware that comedy is not evergreen. We don’t have to cancel comedy but we can keep looking at it and studying it and evolving it. 

I would love to work with Patton Oswalt in any capacity. I think he’s a philosopher and one of the smartest living human beings on the planet. He’s someone else that isn’t afraid to evolve. He did certain bits from 10 years ago that are, honestly, offensive now. He shows that you can fix, morph, and grow and still put out an incredible amount of material. 

JR: This reminds me of your amazing character, Beverly Ginsburg. I listened to your farewell show and was sad because I adored her and but I heard what you said about her racism and ignorance no longer being punchlines. It reminded me though of Sarah Silverman saying that she had befriended a former neo-nazi who as a 14-year-old was rejected by his family and friends but was embraced by this group of hateful people. Sarah said, ‘here’s the problem with cancel culture: we’re driving people into the arms of danger.’

JD: Yes, it’s taking the guy who writes, ‘All Lives Matter’ and instead of firing him, it’s talking to him and explaining to him what’s problematic and then welcoming him back. It’s not about driving him away. I agree with you 100% but with Beverly, one thing that I don’t think I made as clear as I wanted to in that last episode was that one of the tropes of the whole ‘white savior’ concept is that there’s a crazy, crazy racist. The white person that’s put there to be an absolute terror so the audience can sigh and say, ‘Oh thank god, I’m not that bad!’

One of the things that Archie Bunker and, if I can compare, one of the things about Bev is that she often makes people feel comfortable about their small amount of racism or assures them that they couldn’t possibly be racist because look at Bev, she’s insane. And I don’t want to do it right now or maybe ever. I said everything I needed to say. I had a lot of fun. I’m good saying goodbye.

JR: I just want to add that during the past administration, I had real difficulty with loving the sinner and hating the sin when it came to Trump supporters in my life. Beverly made me laugh and recognize that there’s still humor and heart there and that they weren’t worth writing off… that I still love those people that I absolutely disagree with. I guess I’m saying that she helped me and I appreciate it.

JD: Aww, that’s sweet. But it’s time to move forward. I still love Bev and I’ll always be grateful to her.

JR: I wanted to ask you about working with Paul Feig. First of all, I love the way he dresses…

JD: Ohh, just the best!

JR: He just seems like a great collaborator. I used to work with the Women In Comedy Festival and we gave him an honorary funny woman award.

JD: You know what it is about Paul? He’s the world’s greatest fan. He is just never afraid to fan out. If it’s funny, he loves it. There’s no female or male funny, there’s just funny with him. If Paul’s your fan, he’s your #1 fan. He’s a lovely human being who runs around in gorgeous suits and makes you feel good. I would love to work with him again. He’s a bubble of light.

JR: Like you!

JD: Oh my god. You’re so sweet! I’m so sorry but I have to go kayak. Don’t ask.

JR: Jamie, thank you so much for your time. Come visit us in Provincetown soon!



Jump to

[Letter from the Board President] [Member in the News] [Institute Updates]
[Cinema Updates] [Festival Updates] [The Launch]

Letter from the Board President

With 2020 now behind us, the Provincetown Film Society would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy new year! Despite the many challenges that still lie ahead, there is reason to be hopeful and planning for 2021 is well underway. It promises to be an exciting year, with programs that celebrate the diverse voice and richness of the Provincetown community.

 We will be kicking off the year with a winter auction, and we hope that you will all help us make it as successful as possible. It is full of unique items that celebrate the history, culture, and idiosyncrasies of Provincetown that you won’t want to miss. In fact, many of the featured items are so unique, I suspect they will be talked about for years to come!  

As 2021 rolls on, we will be announcing some exciting new programs and, of course, our 23rd annual Provincetown International Film Festival in June – so stay tuned. You helped us get through 2020, and for that we are eternally grateful. Please join us in celebrating all the things you love about PFS and help us continue fighting for a more equitable and inclusive future. 

~ Anthony Lawson, PFS Board President

Support the Provincetown Film Society with our online Winter Auction January 29 – February 7. Bid on vacation stays, gift cards, art work, truly unforgettable Ptown experiences, and more! You won’t want to miss it! Details soon at

Member in the News by Tracy Pease

She’s back!  Gabby Hanna, Provincetown Film Society’s January’s Member in the News is the newest member of the board (didn’t I say that last month?).  After stepping down six years ago from her 10-year position as Executive Director, we’re happy to say, Gabby is back!

Although Gabby spent the majority of her career in the non-profit sector, she has worked for the last five years as a real estate agent in Provincetown, now with William Raveis Real Estate. 

A local luminary, Gabby has served as the Executive Director of the Provincetown Business Guild and on the Town of Provincetown’s Finance Committee, Animal Welfare Committee, and Economic Development Council.  She was previously President of GAH Consulting, a New York City-based fundraising and special events company specializing in fundraising programs, major gifts programs, board development, strategic planning, capital campaigns, and special events for not-for-profit organizations and documentary filmmakers. 

While living in New York, Gabby also served as Executive Director of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, Director of Development of Body Positive, a New York City HIV/AIDS service organization, Director of Institutional Advancement for The Hewitt School, and Barnard College’s Associate Director of Alumnae Affairs. Her career began as an Assistant Buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue, after working as a pianist following graduation from Barnard College. 

On Cape, Gabby has served on the Boards of WOMR Outermost Community Radio, Payomet Center for the Performing Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center.  Gabby has recently immersed herself in film and theater production. She was an Executive Producer of LOVE IS STRANGE, a film by Ira Sachs co-starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina; co-producer of the Broadway revival of Side Show, directed by Bill Condon; It Shoulda Been You, a new musical directed by David Hyde Pierce; a new musical Tuck Everlasting, directed by Casey Nicholaw; and most recently, The Cher Show

Gabby Hanna and Blythe Robertson

Gabby and her wife Marcy Feller have made a home in Provincetown with their Dobermans, Luna and Hero.  

Last month’s member in the news, Blythe Robertson (pictured right with Gabby at PIFF 2019) was the first new addition, in 2020, of the growing board line-up.  At a time in our country and the world when there is so much uncertainty, our board members are garnering faith and building a stronger foundation to sustain us through the chaos and the lineup is first class!

Not coincidentally, Gabby has partnered on past projects with Robertson.  The dynamic duo bring their experience and caché branded by this organization for years.  They say you can judge a woman by the company she keeps.  Red carpet here we come!

Looking for your film-loving flock? Become a member of the Provincetown Film Society! Join at any level and reap all the cinema-tastic rewards! Feature your news in our newsletter, discounts, and more!

Women’s Media Summit 2021

Planning is underway for our first online Women’s Media Summit 2021. Dates will be announced soon! If you would like to get involved, please contact

A heartfelt welcome to new advisory board members of the Ash Christian Shorts Filmmaking Program: Anne Clements, Rich Delia, Silas Howard, Matt Kugelman, Coleman Lannun, Kimberly Montini, and Javier Morgado. Submission guidelines to the program will be posted in February.

Recommended Film Viewing for January Events
(All films are available via streaming)

January 18/Celebrating Martin Luther King Day

SELMA directed by Ava DuVernay. Based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers, including the late John Lewis, their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1985.

I AM MLK JR. directed by John Barbisan & Michael Hamilton. This documentary explores the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his impact on civil rights through present day.

KING IN THE WILDERNESS chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. Directed by Peter Kunhardt

January 27/Holocaust Remembrance Day

SON OF SAUL Directed by László Nemes During World War II, a Jewish worker (Géza Röhrig) at the Auschwitz concentration camp tries to find a rabbi to give a child a proper burial.

EUROPA EUROPA directed by Agnieszka Holland based on the 1989 autobiography of Solomon Perel, a German Jewish boy who escaped the Holocaust by masquerading as a “Nazi” German.IDA directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. In 1962, Anna is about to take vows as a nun when she learns from her only relative that she is Jewish. Both women embark on a journey to discover their family story and where they belong.

CONSPIRACY directed by Frank Pierson – In January 1942, as the United States enters World War II, a conference assembles near Berlin where a military officials meet to discuss the “evacuation” of Germany’s Jews and other undesirables, a code word for their extermination in concentration camps. To begin this Final Solution, they must change the mind of a small group of men opposed to the idea.

THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC directed by Donna Dietch – AN  American-born Jewish adolescent, is uninterested in the culture, faith and customs of her relatives; however, she begins to revaluate her heritage when she has a supernatural experience that transports her back to a Nazi death camp in 1941. There, she meets a young girl, a fellow captive in the camp. Together, they As struggle to survive in the face of daily atrocities.

Exclusive Films at Waters Edge Virtual Cinema!

Virtual Cinema delivers a wide variety of exclusive new  films every week. Enjoy art house movies@home. 

Waters Edge Cinema Marquee Photo Courtesy of Provincetown Banner, Mary Ann Bragg

Check out the Banner article about Waters Edge Cinema!

LET’S GO BACK TO THE MOVIES! Rent Waters Edge Cinema with your family or house mates to screen your favorite films! Choose from our selection of films, or bring your own film, home videos, and more to enjoy! Starting at $149

Provincetown Film Festival 2021

Save the date! PIFF June 16-25, 2021

Now accepting submissions for the 2021 Provincetown Film Festival! Regular deadline: January 15

The Launch with Julie Rockett

Recently, I posed this question to my Facebook friends: “When it’s finally safe to return to normal life, what’s one big thing and small thing you want to do?” I wrote “fly to Croatia” and “see a movie with friends in a theatre.” While others had kinder responses like, “Hug everyone!” I still really, really want to go back to Waters Edge Cinema and sit right next to my friends and co-workers to enjoy a film. 

I watched the film Papi Chulo which is one of those films that you want to watch with others and if that’s not possible, you want to recommend it to all of your friends right away. The movie reminds me about a friend who said that he’d rather see a small magic trick done really well rather than watch someone magically make the Statue of Liberty disappear. Papi Chulo is that perfect card trick. It speaks to all the things plaguing us at the moment like loneliness and isolation, and approaches it with an original story about humor and humanity. 

John Butler

One of the cast members of this film is the dreamy friend of Provincetown Film Society, Dave Holmes. I am indebted to Dave for introducing me to Papi Chulo’s writer and director, John Butler. John spoke to me from his home in Dublin and discussed being a proud Classics major and challenged the legitimacy of the notion of ‘guilty pleasures.’

Julie Rockett: Hi John, I first wanted to say that when I was doing some research, I found that we were both Classics majors. After watching your film, I feel like I saw your knowledge of Classics come through because Papi Chulo shows an example of an unconventional love. Unconventional by modern standards but in Ancient Greek there are twelve kinds of love which is much broader than the narrow view of just romantic love most people have. 

John Butler:  Thank you. Richard Yates has a collection of short stories called Eleven Kinds of Loneliness and I always thought that was a great title. Also, when I was writing this film, I thought a lot about whether there is a form of loneliness that is unique to the gay community. Brandon Taylor– who was short-listed for the Booker Prize, wrote probably the best book I read this year, Real Life— wrote a great piece a few years ago about queer love that inspired my writing of this film. It made me want to examine the unique aspects.

JR: I found it to be such a rich story. And you had the casting gods shining upon you with Matt Bomer and Alejandro Patino.

JB: <laughs>

JR: Have you been able to see films this year?

JB: The last film I saw in the cinema was Almodovar’s Pain & Glory which was February. I didn’t know at the time would be my last cinema experience. I’ve been watching films all the other ways though this year.

JR: Have you found anything inspiring recently?

JB: A couple of things. I finally got to see the show Dave. It starts out like a Woody Allen sort of thing and then it gets much deeper. I also loved the show Atlanta. UK-wise I found Industry to be very good.

JR: Do you recall your first favorite film?

JB: The Pink Panther films. I really fancied Peter Sellers, not just as the Pink Panther but in all of his films. I found his talent to be extraordinarily attractive. He’s a really interesting actor because there’s such darkness to him as well. You can feel that dark manic energy in his comedic performances.

JR: Is there a person that you dream of working with…. living or dead…

JB: That certainly broadens the selection.

JR: Hey, it’s your dream. I’m not interfering. 

JB: From these shores, Saoirse Ronan. Stanley Tucci is the other one.

JR: Is there a film of Tucci’s that you really enjoyed?

JB: I first became aware of him in Big Night and everything after… He’s an easy performer and he makes it appear effortless. I quite like that. Art is in the concealing and that’s what he does so well.

JR:  Is there a film you wish was wider known?

JB: Chris Kelly’s film, Other People. It is so moving and entertaining simultaneously. It’s just so beautiful. Jesse Plemmons and Molly Shannon are just superb in it. And another is Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War. It’s a Polish film based on his parent’s love story. There are these significant time jumps with no title on screen to tell you more. You start to realize through make-up and hair what time period you’re in. It’s stunning. I watched it in the cinema and it was filled with Polish immigrants. In the middle of the film, there were people smiling at each other recognizing the shared experiences.

JR: Is there a film that’s a guilty pleasure?

JB:  I don’t believe in them.

JR: I love that!

JB:  I don’t believe in the concept because you either enjoy something or you don’t. Denying that something’s enjoyable to you is a kind of deception. I watched Emily in Paris and I enjoyed it. That’s not to say that it wasn’t crap, but I enjoyed it. The Sex & The City movies are shit and I love them. I sometimes think there’s a cultural snobbery with that. I see it often with straight guys who begrudgingly say they like Pet Shop Boys or Kylie Minogue. What’s stopping you from saying it’s good?

JR: I hate the term ‘girl crush’.

JB: So true. Or like, ‘man date’. The other one that drives me mad is ‘man cave’. Stop infantilizing things. If you are into having a La-Z-Boy and a TV and a stack of porn, you don’t have to gender it as if there’s some implied butchness to having a spot in the house to yourself. Why we’re getting into this, I don’t know.

JR: I don’t know either but I love your take on things! 

Provincetown Film Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, We rely upon community financial support for continued year-round operation. Your generous support is appreciated!