The Provincetown International Film Festival has announced its 2019 slate of narrative, documentary, and short films. The Massachusetts festival, which runs June 12–16, is not technically an LGBTQ fest, but with a decades-long emphasis on queer films and John Waters as its trashtastic éminence grise—and the warm, sunny, sandy, boozy, super gay, just-slightly-weird backdrop of P-Town—it’s as queer as they come.
Brittany Runs a Marathon, directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo, will open the festival (with Colaizzo and lead actress Jillian Bell in attendance), and Before You Know It, directed by Hannah Pearl Utt and starring Judith Light, will close it out (with Utt in attendance).
Acclaimed writer-director-actor John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, How to Talk to Girls at Parties) will be honored with the the 2019 Filmmaker on the Edge Award. Mitchell, who won the PIFF Audience Award for Hedwig in 2001, will return to Provincetown to accept the festival’s highest filmmaking honor in conversation with resident artist John Waters on Saturday, June 15 at Town Hall. Mitchell’s original musical podcast Anthem: Homunculus is now available on Luminary Media.
Actress Judith Light will receive the festival’s Excellence in Acting Award and accept the award on June 15 in conversation at Town Hall. Known for her extensive body of work on TV, film, and stage, Light has been a career-long champion for LGBTQ equality. Light won two consecutive Tony and Drama Desk awards (2012 and 2013) for her performances in Other Desert Cities and The Assembled Parties, making her the first actress in nearly two decades to win consecutive Tonys. Her role in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story earned her an Emmy nomination and a Critics Choice nomination. This fall she stars with Bette Midler and Ben Platt in Murphy’s Netflix series The Politician and in the musical finale of Transparent, the Amazon Prime series created by Jill Soloway, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination and multiple Emmy and Critics’ Choice nominations.
Here’s the lineup of LGBTQ-interest films:
2018, USA, directed by Rhys Ernst
Cast: Nicholas Alexander, Margaret Qualley, Bobbi Salvör Menuez
New England Premiere
Awkward teen Adam spends his last high school summer with his big sister, who throws herself into NYC’s lesbian and trans activist scene. After meeting and falling for thoughtful, savvy Gillian he realizes that she’s mistaken his gender identity and makes the fateful decision not to correct her, as he and those around him encounter love, friendship and hard truths. Director Rhys Ernst (a director-producer on Transparent) depicts Ariel Schwag’s novel with wit and sensitivity, delivering a coming-of-age comedy that subverts boy-meets-girl conventions.
An Almost Ordinary Summer
2018, Italy, 77 minutes, directed by Salvador Simó
Cast: Frabrizio Bentivoglio, Alessandro Gassman, Jasmine Trinca, Anna Galiena
New England Premiere
Two very different families spend their holidays in the same seaside house: the aristocratic Castelvecchio’s—open-minded, eccentric, but quite selfish—and the working-class Petagna’s—very tight-knit and united around solid conservative values. What brought such distant worlds together? Tony and Carlo, the two middle-aged heads of the families, who have assembled their families to not only announce they’re a couple, but are getting married in three weeks. The unexpected announcement disrupts an almost ordinary summer, turning the lives of everyone involved upside down. In Italian with English subtitles.
Before You Know It
2018, USA, directed by Hannah Pearl Utt
Cast: Hannah Pearl Utt, Jen Tullock, Judith Light, Mandy Patinkin
After the unexpected death of their eccentric playwright father, a pair of sisters find out that the mother they thought was dead is alive and starring on a soap opera in this unconventional, expectation-defying dramedy by co-writer-director-star Hannah Pearl Utt (who plays the more grounded, sensible sister Rachel). Blending over-the-top comedic moments with a nuanced and thoughtful depiction of Rachel’s journey of self-discovery, Before You Know It is a wonderfully unique, witty debut from an exciting new filmmaking voice.
Brittany Runs a Marathon
2018, USA, 103 minutes, directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo
Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar
Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a hilarious mess of a New Yorker, but, at 27, her late night adventures are catching up to her. While attempting to score some Adderall from a doctor, she is forced to face reality. Brittany laces up her Converse and runs one sweaty block, then two. Soon she runs a mile. Brittany finally has direction—but is she on the right path? Award-winning playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo makes his directorial debut with this nuanced comedy with an irresistible cast that is as entertaining as it is inspirational; the tale of a woman taking control of her future, one city block at a time. Winner of the U.S. Audience Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Circus of Books
2019, USA, 92 minutes, directed by Rachel Mason
New England Premiere
Filmmaker Rachel Mason’s parents, Karen and Barry, are the proprietors of iconic L.A. pornography shop Circus of Books. Mason chronicles their life’s work as one of the biggest distributors of gay porn in the country, including their prosecution on obscenity charges and the shop’s role in offering refuge to the LGBTQ community during the height of the AIDS crisis. Circus of Books depicts an untold chapter in queer history, while also honestly and emotionally exploring how the way Mason’s parents supported their family affected their home life as well.
End of the Century
2019, Argentina, 84 minutes, directed by Lucio Castro
Cast: Juan Barberini, Ramón Pujol, Mía Maetro
New England Premiere
An Argentinian man from New York and a Spanish man from Berlin hook up by chance while in Barcelona. What seems like a one-night encounter between two strangers (Juan Barberini and Ramón Pujol) becomes an epic, decades-spanning relationship, which Lucio Castro depicts in a nonlinear fashion, and in which time and space refuse to play by the rules. Castro’s inventive and enigmatic debut feature is consistently surprising, turning a love story into a cosmic voyage with no clear beginning or end. North American premiere at 2019 New Directors/New Films. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Gay Chorus Deep South
2019, USA, 100 minutes, directed by David Charles Rodrigues
To confront a resurgence of faith-based, anti-LGBTQ laws brought about in the Trump era, conductor Tim Seelig leads 300 singers of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus on a bus tour of the deep South. The road trip forces Seelig and other chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey toward reconciliation. In a time of great divide in this country, director David Charles Rodrigues reveals a timely exploration of LGBTQ issues that both challenges and reinforces notions surrounding the South.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
2001, USA, 95 minutes, directed by John Cameron Mitchell
Cast: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Andrea Martin, Michael Pitt
Brilliantly innovative, heartbreaking, and wickedly funny, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the landmark musical by 2019 Filmmaker on the Edge honoree John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask. A singular pop culture phenomenon that feels as vital in 2019 as it did in its off-Broadway debut, Hedwig is firmly established as a pop culture phenomenon, having returned to the New York stage (and winning four Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival) and continuing to play on stages and screens around the world. Long live Hedwig!
Making Montgomery Clift
2018, USA, 88 minutes, directed by Robert Clift, Hillary Demmon
Directed by Clift’s nephew Robert Clift and Hillary Demmon, Making Montgomery Clift explores Monty’s life from the fresh and intimate perspective of his family, remaining lovers, and friends. Through their stories and voluminous audio recordings made by Monty and his family, the myth of a troubled young man struggling with his sexuality and post-car accident appearance in 1960s Hollywood is challenged—and a new Monty starts to emerge: a complicated man and talented actor who can’t be easily pigeonholed into the familiar narratives found in his biographies.
2019, UK, 89 minutes, directed by Jeanie Finlay
Freddy is 30 and yearns to start a family but for him this ordinary desire comes with unique challenges. He is a gay transgender man. Deciding to carry his own baby took years of soul searching, but nothing could prepare him for the reality of pregnancy, and the challenges of society’s fundamental understanding of gender, parenthood and family. Against a backdrop of increasing hostility towards trans people, Freddy is forced to confront his own naiveté, mine unknown depths of courage and lean on every friend and family member who will stand by him.
New England Premiere
2018, USA, 87 minutes, directed by Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann
Cast: Anna Margaret Hollyman, Michael Mosley, Andrea Suarez Paz
In 1926, America’s most famous evangelist is looking for a way out. Fed up with her own success, she runs away with her married lover and finds herself on a wild road trip towards the border. And that’s only the beginning in this marvelous film based (very very loosely) on a true story. In their playful feature debut, co-writer/directors Samantha Buck and Marie Schlingmann conjure a true retro spectacular anchored by Anna Margaret Hollyman’s dazzling virtuosic turn as consummate showwoman Aimee. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.
State of Pride
2019, USA, 70 minutes, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
East Coast Premiere
Fifty years after the Stonewall uprising, Oscar winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman travel to three different communities—Salt Lake City, Utah; San Francisco, California; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama—for an unflinching look at LGBTQ Pride, from the perspective of a younger generation for whom it still has personal urgency. Past struggles are revisited and trailblazers are celebrated as the millennial generation in these disparate locations articulate the enduring need, both personal and political, for Pride celebrations in their communities.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
1971, USA, 110 minutes, directed by John Schlesinger
Cast: Murray Head, Glenda Jackson, Peter Finch
Nominated for four Academy Awards including best director, Sunday Bloody Sunday is the 1971 British drama written by Penelope Gilliat. It tells the story of a free-spirited young bisexual artist (Murray Head) and his simultaneous relationships with a divorced career woman (Glenda Jackson) and a middle-aged Jewish male doctor (Peter Finch). It was significant for its time with Finch’s lead gay character depicted as successful, complex and human, and not negatively portrayed as in many other films of the day.
Sword of Trust
2018, USA, 89 minutes, directed by Lynn Shelton
Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Marc Maron
Couple Cynthia and Mary show up to collect Cynthia’s inheritance from her deceased grandfather, and find the only item she’s received is an antique sword that her grandfather believed to be proof that the South won the Civil War. This unique bequeathment leads to a world of trouble as they team up with curmudgeonly pawn shop owner (wonderfully played by Marc Maron) and go on an unexpected road trip to try to sell the sword to one of her grandfather’s eccentric fellow believers in this offbeat comedic adventure.
Top End Wedding
2018, Australia, 103 minutes, directed by Wayne Blair
Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox
Lauren and Ned plans to have an impromptu wedding are derailed after her mom goes AWOL following a spat with her now comically-depressed dad. Now they have just 10 days to find Lauren’s mother, reunite her parents, and pull off their dream wedding. Following her wayward mom’s path takes them on a madcap, picturesque journey through Australia’s far north from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands, culminating in a beautiful story about returning home in this heartfelt, funny film by director Wayne Blair (The Sapphires). In English and Tiwi with English subtitles.
Vita & Virginia
2018, Ireland, UK, 110 minutes, directed by Chanya Button
Cast: Gemma Arterton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isabella Rossellini
The fascinating true story about the love affair between socialite and popular author Vita Sackville-West and literary icon Virginia Woolf springs to life in this sumptuous double portrait of its two extraordinary real-life protagonists explores how their liberating affair led to one of Woolf’s greatest novels. Rising Hollywood stars Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki provide undeniable chemistry as they embody Vita and Virginia with elegance and sensuality. In only her second feature film, Chanya Button’s inventive, striking filmmaking style adds layers of visual interest and energy to this beautifully rendered, seductive period film.
2019, USA, 89 minutes, directed by Chris Mourkarbel
Late one night in 1984, Lady Bunny and a few friends drunkenly wandered from the Pyramid Club in New York’s East Village to Tompkins Square Park and staged an impromptu drag show. This would soon become an annual drag bacchanal that lasted until 2001. In 2018 Wigstock roared back in all its glittery glory—celebrating drag, both classic (we won’t say old) and new. Wig lovingly captures the “then” and “now” of this cultural institution. Look for your favorite performers—they may be in the audience next to you!
Festival short films include:
Burning My Tongue
Catherine Opie b. 1961
Fran This Summer
How I Came Out!
I Knew Andy Warhol
Miller & Son
The Cocoa Fondue Show
You Say Hello