P-town Film Festival, Day 1
By Matthew Breen
As I drove to the curlicue tip of Cape Cod Wednesday midday, I passed so many signs with beach-y things written on them that pangs of guilt began to well up: I was driving out to a summer beach paradise, and had the temerity to call it "work." I'd worked for the Sundance Film Festival a long time ago, in the frequently blizzardy, always frozen weather pf Park City, Utah, in January, and was starting to wonder why anyone would put a festival in such conditions. Why not always pick some place welcoming, sunny location like this? I answered my own question: It's harder to keep butts in dark theaters when the alternative is getting sand and sunscreen between one's toes.
Provincetown, Mass., site of the Provincetown International Film Festival, is a charming seaside town, with lobster roll huts, art galleries, al fresco diners, and tons of gay and lesbian visitors. It was my first time in P-town, so I was excited to catch a glimpse of John Waters with a hitchhiking sign or a sleuth of Bear City 2 bears walking down the street, or sometime residents Marc Jacobs or Judy Gold.
I checked into the cozy Sage Inn at 366 Commercial St. (that’s the main drag), walked up to the festival check-in location, took pictures of candy-colored houses and a vaguely medieval-looking tower (a copy of Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy?) commemorating the pilgrim’s landing spot, and rented a bike.
The opening night film at the Town Hall was Last Weekend, starring Patricia Clarkson, written by Tom Dolby, and co-directed by Dolby and Tom Williams. The film was having its east coast premiere, and much of the cast was in attendance. Dolby has said that his own family situation—self-made father, sophisticated mother, older son is gay, younger son is straight, summers in a massive Lake Tahoe estate house—was only a jumping off point for the film, but what a jumping off point. It takes place in the gorgeous Lake Tahoe home his parents own, and was the shooting location for the Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift vehicle A Place in the Sun, and features a family with exactly the same characteristics as described above.
Clarkson, known for High Art, The Station Agent, Pieces of April, Dogville, and so many other great independent films, is the recipient of the festival’s Excellence in Acting Award. At a party following the screening, I found a break in the frenzy of eager film fans (“I’ve been photographed for the world tonight!” she said.). We talked briefly about some of her queer roles. “Actors who aren’t amenable to queer content are idiots,” she said rather plainly. “I can’t imagine being [an actor who’d refuse a gay role], or being with a man who didn’t want to be with that, or being friends with someone who wasn’t amendable.” She was whisked off to one more photo, and then, as it was nearing midnight, her hotel.
The unofficial after-after party was P-town’s Wednesday weekly “Fag Bash,” party downstairs at the Governor Bradford. I was ushered in without ever catching a good look at the call-to-costume, but the outfits were red body paint, demonic horns, black gauzy fabric, and at least one psychedelic body stocking. I need another Wednesday here so I can plan a proper costume.
Tomorrow: Regarding Susan Sontag (documentary, dir. Nancy Kates) and Appropriate Behavior (narrative, dir. Desiree Akhavan).