Divine (photo: Lynn Davis)
15th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival — June 19-23 — keeps getting bigger and better
By Loren King
A documentary about Divine, director John Waters’ muse and star, is just one of many LGBT-themed films that will grace the 15th annual Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF), running June 19-23. From its first year, when Waters himself was honored as the festival’s “Filmmaker on the Edge,” PIFF has championed LGBT films and filmmakers. For this milestone year the festival will do it again — but even bigger.
As the PIFF has grown in reputation and popularity, its organizers have been savvy about attracting not just A-list talent more than happy to spend a few days in P-town but the funding to put on a destination event. This year, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded grants to PIFF for its 15th annual fest. It will be used to bring back several “Filmmaker on the Edge” awardees from the past 15 years.
Besides Waters, directors Mary Harron and Gregg Araki and producer Christine Vachon are among past guests slated to return. PIFF will screen seminal films from each of these filmmakers, who all have strong LGBT ties. These include Waters’ legendary Pink Flamingos; Vachon’s Kids; Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol; and Araki’s Mysterious Skin, the 2004 drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and based on gay writer Scott Heim’s novel. Other past honorees Jim Jarmusch, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino have been asked to invite a rising director they admire to attend. PIFF artistic director Connie White says this underscores and continues the festival’s mission to recognize independent filmmakers “on the edge.”
White is particularly thrilled that this year’s PIFF will get the East Coast premiere of I’m So Excited, the new film from Pedro Almodóvar. “It’s very gay,” says White. “Many of the characters are gay including three flight attendants in business class who break into song and have sex with the pilot, but it’s not crass; it’s hysterical.” Almodóvar favorites Lola Dueñas, Cecilia Roth, Carmen Machi, and Javier Cámara star; even Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz appear in smaller roles.
White compares I’m So Excited to Almodóvar’s signature campy, farcical comedies like Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and his breakout Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. “Only now he’s even a better filmmaker,” she says.
Director Jeffrey Schwarz’s I Am Divine is a biographical portrait of Harris Glenn Milstead, a.k.a. Divine, who met Waters in high school in Baltimore and became his friend, collaborator and cult superstar. Schwarz directed the 2011 documentary Vito, about The Celluloid Closet author and activist Vito Russo (it played the PIFF and aired on HBO in 2012). His new film weaves movie clips, rare home movies and photos, television appearances and live performance footage of Divine with fresh interviews with John Waters, Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, Tab Hunter, Holly Woodlawn, Michael Musto, Bruce Vilanch and his mother, Frances Milstead, who provided her final interview just months before she passed away. [x]
Provincetown Film Fest
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