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Provincetown Film Festival: Celluloid Celebration by the Sea

Provincetown Film Festival: Celluloid Celebration by the Sea

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The biggest queer names in movies are converging on that idyllic (and very queer) New England destination.

Cape Cod and movies don't automatically go together in many people's minds. But the Provincetown International Film Festival — going on 25 years and kicking off its opening night on Wednesday and closing on Sunday — has established itself as one of the nation's preeminent film events. And being held in Ptown, PIFF naturally has a very queer bent. This year, attendees will witness legends like Billy Porter, Julio Torres, and Megan Stalter honored, and filmmaker Bruce LaBruce is receiving the "Filmmaker on the Edge" award from none other than PIFF's resident artist, icon of icons John Waters.

“If anybody deserves the Filmmaker on Edge Award, it’s this year’s honoree Bruce LaBruce,” Waters said in a statement. “He’s been pushing the limits of gay correctness, punk attitude, and political mayhem for about forty years and has somehow managed to keep his celluloid troublemaking spirit intact both above and below the limits of underground and commercial filmmaking. Filth followers everywhere - we honor you, Bruce LaBruce.”

Closing night features the eagerly anticipated film Theater Camp, with plenty of programming going on before then (see the full schedule and info on tickets here). We asked Andrew Peterson, Director of Programming for PIFF, about this (not so) little film festival that could.

What's special about the Provincetown International Film Festival?
The thing that excites me the most about the festival is our history of supporting emerging artists, first-time filmmakers, female filmmakers, and filmmakers from underrepresented communities to amplify their voices, to shine a spotlight on them and their work. When thousands of films are made a year, the industry looks to festivals like Provincetown to curate a list and I really geek out when we're able to introduce audiences to a film or filmmaker they may not know.

What can attendees expect this year?
We always have strong attendance from filmmakers, press, and industry members. This is the 25th anniversary, and attendees can always expect some really special access to filmmakers and honorees but this year is a little extra. I love every festival. Every festival has its own vibe but there can be a million things happening every day and you don't always know where to go or what to do and you may never even see the people you really want to see. The thing that makes this festival special is that if you come to Provincetown you'll meet with people that could change your lives and change your careers — which is something you may not get at a larger festival.

Any great related events that folks should know about?
I’m really excited about the luncheon we’re doing with Fenton Bailey. We have a long history of supporting Fenton from The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Party Monster that have been a part of the festival and of course the cultural significance of RuPaul's Drag Race is known to everybody. We’ll be hosting a conversation with Fenton, moderated by Carson Kressley, about his new book and his impact on drag culture. We're seeing the dark side of that right now — where he's been so successful in lifting up drag culture that it's now getting attacked. To me a festival is about ideas as much as it is about films, so I love the opportunity to have conversations and this is a timely one and Fenton's the right person to have it with. We also have a wide selection of LGBTQfilms, and I’m proud to say that all of our honorees — Bruce La Bruce, Billy Porter, Julio Torres ,and Megan Stalter — are all part of the LGBTQIA community and we’ll be having conversations with all of them.

How do you feel about the state of film in post-COVID 2023?
I think COVID has made us really reliant on finding a lot of our content on streaming services so I'm excited about people coming back to theaters. Festivals provide the opportunity to see something on the big screen in the way that the filmmaker intended. There's a smaller and smaller space in theatrical (especially for docs) and most of them are accessed through streamers, which is great — I love that people have access to these ideas and these stories. But the filmmaker intended it to be seen on the big screen. So festivals are a special opportunity to see the film the way they were intended while also providing a unique opportunity for the community to get together to talk about films and ideas.

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