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Provincetown Film Festival

Provincetown Film Festival


Jane Lynch, Alan Ball, and John Waters descend on the Cape. Will Henderson gives us the queer highlights from this year's festival.

Friday night, midway through the five-day Provincetown International Film Festival, and Charlie David (Dante's Cove) is having drinks with some guys at the Crown & Anchor's Wave Bar. They linger until last call then file out, one after the other.

Just across the street, Jane Lynch is standing outside Spiritus Pizza in the middle of a throng of men with nowhere else to go, the bars having closed. After a few minutes she and a friend leave, walking down Commercial Street without looking back.

The next day, at a lunch schmoozefest for film festival sponsors and members of the media, Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, and Gael Garcia Bernal (pictured above) are bounced from interview to interview to talk about receiving, later that night, respectively, the Faith Hubley Memorial Award, the Filmmaker on the Edge award, and the Excellence in Acting Award.

Jane Lynch

"It's a huge honor," gushed Lynch, while Bernal said he appreciated the honor "very much" and that he's "been lucky" in his career. Of his forthcoming film, Blindness, he can only say, "I saw it once and I thought it was interesting, and then I saw it again and I have much hope for it."

But leave it to Tarantino, who received from the Provincetown Board of Selectmen Saturday afternoon the singular honor of having June 21, 2008, named "Quentin Tarantino Day," to steal the spotlight by announcing that he had finished the screenplay of his long-awaited Inglorious Bastards and hopes to have it ready to screen next year at Cannes.

"I have created a Mt. Everest of paper," Tarantino told The Advocate. "Now I have to climb it."

Quentin Tarantino

This year's festival included 61 documentaries, 55 feature films, four Portuguese Spotlight films, five short films programs, special screenings of films featuring the three award recipients, and a series of youth- and diversity-oriented film programming. Along the way, there were breakfasts with actors and directors, and panel discussions, as was the case on Sunday, when Christine Vachon led a panel with several directors honored as Filmmakers on the Edge at previous festivals, including Gregg Araki.

John Waters and Greg Araki

"We don't have careers without film festivals," Araki said. "They are an integral part of the filmmaking process."

Waters, who has been involved with the festival in each of its 10 years, told us that the caliber of films submitted each year makes scheduling the event increasingly challenging, as did an ongoing construction project at Provincetown Town Hall, one of several venues used in the town as makeshift theaters during the festival.

His solution: Get the town to build a venue to rival the Palais in Cannes -- preferably in time to screen his upcoming feature film, Fruitcake.

By the time we spoke, Waters had taken in a slew of films, including Guest of Cindy Sherman (directed by Tom Donahue and Paul Hasegawa-Overacke) and Towelhead, the feature film directorial debut of Alan Ball, who attended the festival with the film's star, Summer Bishil, and its producer, Ted Hope.

At both screenings of Towelhead, Ball and Bishil took questions from the audience, and Ball was featured at a breakfast panel on Saturday morning.

Ball credited the source material of Towelhead -- a novel written by Alicia Erian, who was in attendance at the screening on Saturday night -- for making his job, not just as director but as screenwriter, easier.

"I tried to remain completely true to the intent and tone and spirit of the novel," said Ball. "I merely transcribed it."

The film tackles difficult subject material -- the first Gulf War, Islamophobia, and the sexualization of a 13-year-old girl -- and will undoubtedly bring acclaim for Bishil, whose previous work includes commercials, an episode of Hannah Montana, and the Disney movie Return to Halloweentown. Bishil appears in nearly every scene and carries the movie, though she humbly told The Advocate her task was made easy by working with actors like Aaron Eckhart, Toni Collette, Peter Macdissi, and Maria Bello.

Ted Hope and Alan Ball

After a screening of the movie Saturday night, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham left the theater, unlocked his bicycle, and rode away from the venue. Bishil, outside with Ball and Erian, watched him go, then turned back to her friends and joined the conversation already in progress.

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Will Henderson