PROVINCETOWN – When it comes to the Provincetown International Film Festival, weather is beside the point. You actually hope for cloudy days so you are not tempted to skip the films and bask in the sublime sunlit glory of this bohemian enclave on the Cape’s tip.
Just writing about Provincetown can be distracting from the matter at hand: the Provincetown Film Festival, one of the Cape’s premiere events. It is no exaggeration to say the festival started rather humbly. The first year, there were only a small number of films and some venues required viewers to sit on the floor.
This year the 16th annual festival runs through Sunday, June 22. It has become a must-attend event for Cape film buffs.
Of the dozens of films shown in any given year, there are always intriguing documentaries, the kind that you discuss with your friends afterwards over drinks. This year, several of the documentaries have regional themes, including, “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger,” about you know who.
There are usually features with a buzz that takes them all the way to the Oscars.
The most obsessive film buffs line up early for the films, angling for a seat down front. That’s not a bad idea, because at most of the venues there are definitely good seats and bad.
As befits a town known for being a bit off-kilter, the theaters vary widely. (Some attendees walk around with their own seat cushions.)
Every year the festival picks an acting honoree with some indie credentials, and this year, it is Patricia Clarkson. Expect to see her wandering on Commercial Street during the weekend.
They also honor a “filmmaker on the edge”—again think cult film—which this year is David Cronenberg.
Filmmaker John Waters attends every year and introduces a special pick of his that tends to be an off-beat selection from year’s past.
Film festival organizers tell attendees to come prepared: you need clothes for four types of weather: fall, winter, spring and summer.
Bring a bike or rent one in town. It is the most efficient way to cruise down Main Street to get to a movie on the far side of town.
Make time during the weekend to explore. Take an early morning paddle by kayak across the harbor to Long Point, the four-mile uninhabited sandy spit containing the Cape’s final curl.
The best part about the festival is, you come out of a dark theater and that famous light hits your face: you are in Provincetown, perched at the edge of the continent and anything seems possible.
You can see the complete schedule and order tickets online at Provincetown Film Festival.
A festival warning: don’t expect to wander into a movie at the last minute without a ticket. Most movies sell out a day or two in advance.
But five minutes before each film starts, festival organizers usually let in a small number of people because of no-shows (that infernal delicious sunshine luring people to outside activities.)
– Laura M. Reckford