World premieres, star-studded panels, and an oceanside clambake are set to grace Cape Cod for the 25th annual Provincetown International Film Festival.
From June 14–18, PIFF will present over 100 feature, documentary, and short films across five P-town venues.
The festival is slated to open with Hannah Pearl Utt’s second feature film, “Cora Bora” (screens June 14, 16), a romantic dramedy about a millennial musician’s attempt to salvage her open, long-distance relationship. The film’s star, Megan Stalter, is one of the festival’s Next Wave honorees.
Festival organizers said, as in past years, they strive to emulate Provincetown’s many communities by spotlighting LGBTQ and BIPOC filmmakers. This year is no different.
“We’re not an exclusively LGBTQ festival, but we certainly understand that a lot of our audience is a part of that community,” said PIFF’s artistic director, Lisa Viola.
To this end, Viola and the selection committee pay particular attention to films made by and for members of the LGBTQ community. This year, they also felt it was important to include films by local creators. Their program features 50 films in the festival’s LGBTQIA category, 27 films by BIPOC creators, and eight films with local ties.
“There’s quite a healthy Provincetown filmmaking community, and we really are excited about promoting that,” Viola said. “We did a lot of outreach and tried to unearth and include as many local filmmakers as we could.”
These efforts include films like “Playland” (June 15, 17) directed by Georden West, a former fellow at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center. The narrative film takes place over the course of one fantastical night at The Playland Café, a historic gay bar in Boston that closed doors in 1998. West combined theater, dance, opera, and archival footage to trace the history of gay nightclubs and unpack what these spaces can represent for the LGBTQ community.
PIFF’s open selection process allows for anyone to submit a film for consideration. This year, the festival received 1,100 shorts submissions, nearly three times the usual number. The selection committee then whittles that number down to 50 to screen.
The surge in submissions this year comes after the festival’s 2022 status change to an Academy Awards-qualifying festival. The designation means PIFF’s Best Narrative Short, Best Queer Short, and Best Documentary Short award winners will automatically be eligible to enter the Short Films competition for the next Oscars.
Even with the surge, PIFF organizers say they watch and give equal attention to every single film, not just those with bigger budgets or name talent. “We’re a festival of discovery,” Viola said.
Documentaries include Tünde Skovrán’s “Who I Am Not,” (June 15, 17) about a South African beauty queen who struggles to seek guidance after finding out that she is intersex. And “The Busing Battleground,” (June 16, 18) by Brookline filmmaker Sharon Grimberg and Cyndee Readdean; it chronicles Boston’s segregated history through interviews and archival footage. The world premiere of Globe reporter David Abel’s film, “In The Whale,” (June 16) will screen, as well. It tells the true story of a lobster diver who was swallowed by a whale off Cape Cod.
Between screenings, there will be open houses where local filmmakers can meet each other, fundraisers, and luncheons. “Pose” star Billy Porter will receive this year’s Excellence in Acting award and screen his latest project, “Our Son,” (June 16) a drama that follows the custody battle of a divorcing couple. Porter, as well as Bruce LaBruce, this year’s Filmmaker on the Edge, and Next Wave honorees Stalter and Julio Torres will accept their awards and participate in conversation sessions at various festival locations. Attendees can purchase a festival pass, which is required for access to award presentations and other events, or a single ticket to a film.
“I think a lot of people hear the word film festival and think it’s exclusive,” Viola said. “I try to remind people that anyone can walk up to the box office and purchase tickets to PIFF. We have people from all ages, all walks of life, all persuasions. It sort of fits with the ethos that everyone belongs in Provincetown.”
Provincetown International Film Festival. June 14-18. Ticket $20-$1,500. Waters Edge Cinema at Whalers Wharf, 237 Commercial St. Town Hall, 260 Commercial St. The Art House, 214 Commercial St. provincetownfilm.org/festival/.