Queer Films at Provincetown Film Fest
By Matthew Breen
As one might expect from a film festival in P-Town, a Massachusetts burg known for it’s queer visitors and artsy environs, the 2014 Provincetown International Film Festival features plenty of LGBT programming. This year there are more than a dozen feature-length films and a bakers dozen of short films featuring LGBT plots, characters, or true-life tales. Plus parties.
This year, the festival will be honoring director David Cronenberg and gay-fave actress Patricia Clarkson, both of whom will have retrospective screenings of their films. As will the inimitable Debra Winger.
The 16th annual Provincetown International Film Festival takes place June 18-22 in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Click here for tickets, and read below for selections of LGBT films from the catalog.
Appropriate Behavior (Narrative, USA, 2014, 86 minutes) Directed by Desiree Akhavan
Desiree Akhavan stars as Shirin, a bisexual Brooklynite going through a devastating breakup with her girlfriend Maxine. She’s also underemployed and almost magnetically drawn to the ridiculous situations that make living in a big city both exciting and ludicrous. To top it off, Shirin has the added challenge of living up to the expectations of her very particular Iranian-American family.
An Honest Liar (Documenatry, USA, 2014, 93 minutes) Directed by Justin Weinstein & Tyler Measom
Schooled in the techniques of deception, James “The Amazing” Randi saw his beloved magician’s tricks being used by faith healers, fortune-tellers, and psychics—not for entertainment but to steal money from innocent people. Randi embarked on a mission for truth by perpetrating a series of unparalleled investigations and elaborate hoaxes. His work exposing faith healers won him the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award in 1987.
Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank (Documentary, USA, 2013, 87 minutes) Directed by Sheila Canavan & Michael Chandor
A rare and intimate peek into the life of Barney Frank, the quick-witted, cantankerous, and first openly gay congressman in the United States. The extensive clips of Frank during public appearances and congressional hearings pricelessly display his acerbic wit. It’s a particular pleasure to watch the famously cantankerous politico warmly interacting with his spouse, Jim Ready, who’s clearly mellowed him. Featuring interviews with many of his friends and colleagues (on both sides of the aisle), including his Harvard roommates, one of whom says that he was himself gay and had a longtime crush on Frank.
Director Sheila Canavan, Barney Frank, and Jim Ready in attendance.
Mala Mala (Documentary, Puerto Rico, 2014, 89 minutes) Directed by Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles
Mala Mala is about the power of transformation told through the eyes of nine trans-identifying individuals in Puerto Rico. Glamorous, poignant, sincere, diverse, and celebratory can all be used to describe this magnetic film and the very personal experiences of those in the trans community. From sex workers and drag queens to business owners and LGBTQ advocates fighting for anti-discrimination legislation in Puerto Rico, Mala Mala offers an honest and intimately revealing look at a community wanting to be heard.
In English and Spanish with English subtitles
Sharon Isbin: Troubadour (Documentary, USA, 2013, 60 minutes)
Directed by Susan Dangel
Grammy winner Sharon Isbin is the world’s premier classical guitarist, a trailblazing performer and teacher who, over the course of her career, has broken through numerous barriers to rise to the top of a traditionally male-dominated field. Sharon Isbin: Troubadour combines performance and documentary to focus on Isbin’s unusual and inspiring journey, which has expanded and transformed the landscape of the instrument. Includes interviews with Joan Baez, Garrison Keillor, Janis Ian, Leslie Gore, Martina Navratilova, David Hyde Pierce, and many others.
The Case Against 8 (Documentary, USA, 2013, 112 minutes)
Directed by Ben Cotner & Ryan White
In 2008 Californians passed Proposition 8, a measure that repealed the right of same-sex couples to marry. This documentary takes us behind the scenes of the high-profile trial that overturned the controversial constitutional amendment. Exhaustively tracking the five-year battle to overthrow California’s ban on same-sex marriage, filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White distill the dense legal process into a lucid narrative while illuminating the human drama of the plaintiffs, and by extension, the countless gay men and lesbians they represent. The result is a stirring civil rights film that is both cogent and emotionally charged. Winner of the US Documentary Directing Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
The Last One (Documentary, USA, 2014, 74 minutes) Directed by Nadine Licostie
In the eighties and nineties, as AIDS ravaged the United States gay community, the AIDS Memorial Quilt was born out of a public battle for treatment and understanding. The Last One traces the history as well as the quilt’s important continued role as an international art project and testament to the struggle of the early days of the epidemic. Through the intensely personal stories of founders, volunteers, and panel-makers, The Last One examines how stigma exacerbated and still fuels the disease. Featuring the Quilt’s founder Cleve Jones and dedicated volunteer Gert McMullen, we trace the Quilt’s beginnings and explosive growth. Their stories along with those of the volunteers’ illuminate the epidemic’s impact on the African-American community, particularly women and youth, along with issues of access, education, and social taboo.
52 Tuesdays (Narrative, Australia, 2013, 114 minutes) Directed by Sophie Hyde
A teenage girl’s sexual awakening coincides with her mother’s gender transition in this original and provocative Australian indie shot over 52 consecutive Tuesdays, and only on Tuesdays, to capture a year of life onscreen. Sixteen-year-old Billie has always enjoyed a close relationship with her mother, which is why she’s particularly shocked to come home from school one day and discover Mom locked in the bathroom, dressed as a man. The transition is about to become permanent, and during the yearlong adjustment period, Billie’s mother—who now asks to be called James—sends Billie to live with her father, Tom. James promises they’ll spend every Tuesday evening after school together, and Billie reluctantly agrees. So begins a year of major changes for both Billie and James. Billie finds herself drawn to a couple at her school—Josh and Jasmin—and slowly establishes a friendship that turns into sexual experimentation with both of them. Meanwhile, James begins testosterone shots and takes up with a coworker, Lisa, while keeping the relationship secret from his daughter.
A Reunion (Narrative, 2014, USA, 90 minutes) Directed by Hernando Bansuelo
Josh and Michael, two college friends, take an emotional and eventful road trip from Los Angeles to Chicago to attend their 10-year college reunion. Nearly 30, both are living in complacency—neither fulfilled by their daily lives. They want to grow up but it doesn’t look like that will happen any time soon. They head eastward across the United States and ultimately visit nine cities, traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, to the Grand Canyon, to Albuquerque to Amarillo to St. Louis, and finally landing on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. This journey across the country elicits reminiscences, confessions, and contradictions of each other’s versions of the past.
Drunktown’s Finest (Narrative, USA, 2014, 95 minutes) Directed by Sydney Freeland
On a beautifully desolate Navajo reservation in New Mexico, three young people—a college-bound devout Christian; a rebellious and angry father-to-be; and a promiscuous, gorgeous transgender woman—search for love and acceptance. Here we observe the Navajo Nation from the inside out through the eyes of these three unlikely characters as their paths begin to intersect. With little in common other than a shared heritage, they soon learn that the key to overcoming their respective obstacles may come from the most unlikely of sources, each other. Inspired by a “20/20” story that called her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, “Drunktown USA,” writer/director Sydney Freeland has constructed a moving and ultimately uplifting story about coming of age in the most challenging of circumstances.
In English and Navajo with English subtitles
Last Weekend (Narrative, USA, 2014, 94 minutes) Directed by Tom Dolby & Tom Williams
Patricia Clarkson takes the lead as Celia Green, the sophisticated matriarch of an otherwise dysfunctional family, each member of whom she has invited to their house in Lake Tahoe for Labor Day weekend so that she can let them know she’s planning to sell the family abode. But she quickly comes to realize that maybe you really can’t come home again.
Love is Strange (Narrative, USA, 2014, 98 minutes) Directed by Ira Sachs
After nearly four decades together, Ben and George finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when George loses his job soon after, the couple must sell their apartment and—victims of the relentless New York City real estate market—temporarily live apart until they can find an affordable new home. While George moves in with two gay cops who live downstairs, Ben lands in Brooklyn with his nephew, his wife, and their temperamental teenage son, with whom Ben shares a bunk bed. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements.
The Way He Looks (Narrative, Brazil, 2014, 95 minutes) Directed by Daniel Ribeiro
Blind since birth, young Leonardo needs independence from his overprotective parents. His solution? A study abroad program. The plan upsets the teenager’s clingy mother and hurts the feelings of Giovana, the lovestruck friend who walks him home from school every afternoon. But Leonardo considers putting travel plans on hold when Gabriel, a new boy, arrives in class. Curly-haired Gabriel wins the hearts of all the girls, but it’s Leonardo who makes the biggest impression on the new boy.
In Portuguese with English subtitles