Provincetown Film Festival honors Molly Shannon, Sean Baker, and Chloë Grace Moretz

Mae Gammino/Provincetown International Film Festival
Molly Shannon (left), Sean Baker, and Chloë Grace Moretz at the festival’s annual Garden Party.

The Provincetown International Film Festival ran from Wednesday to Sunday. Here are some highlights from the 20th annual celebration:

  Molly Shannon won the 2018 Excellence in Acting award, a prize that’s been given to Cynthia Nixon, Tilda Swinton, Alan Cumming, and Patricia Clarkson. Shannon’s festival film was “Wild Nights With Emily,” written and directed by her college friend Madeleine Olnek.

During an onstage Q&A with film critic and scholar B. Ruby Rich, Shannon commended Olnek’s take on Emily Dickinson, which portrays the poet as a lively woman in love, as opposed to a shy spinster. Shannon also gave credit to Martha Nell Smith, a Dickinson expert, who consulted on the film.


Shannon also shared what it was like to be raised by a single father after her mother, sister, and cousin died in a car accident when she was young. She credited her dad for encouraging her acting career — he used to compare her to Elizabeth Taylor — and told stories about him feverishly taking speed and then cleaning their house. (That tale got big laughs.)

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Shannon revealed that she didn’t know she had a future in comedy until she developed her famous “Saturday Night Live” character Mary Katherine Gallagher when she and Olnek were students at New York University. The sketch about Gallagher — a dramatic Catholic-school girl who occasionally recites TV movie monologues — became so popular on “SNL” that it inspired the comedy “Superstar” in 1999.

  This year’s Filmmaker on the Edge prize went to Sean Baker, director of “Tangerine” and “The Florida Project.” The festival’s artist-in-residence, John Waters, interviewed Baker onstage and praised his ability to find new talent, including “The Florida Project” star Bria Vinaite, whom Baker found on Instagram. Baker said he’s been lucky with “street-casting,” but Waters said he should give himself more credit. “You got a great performance from a baby,” Waters said, referencing Baker’s 2008 film, “Prince of Broadway,” which is about a salesman of name-brand knock-offs who learns he has a son.

  Actress Chloë Grace Moretz chatted with Waters, Shannon, and Baker at the festival’s annual Garden Party on Saturday afternoon. Moretz was in town to pick up the Next Wave Award and to share her new film, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” which is about teens forced into gay conversion therapy. During the party, Moretz confirmed that she and her family are now working with a major cable network on a docuseries about gay conversion. She said she wants people to be aware that more than 77,000 young people are still affected by the practice.

Moretz also said she loved her first visit to P-Town so much that she’d be returning next month. She said she was supposed to take her mom to Hawaii for her birthday, but “[Expletive] Hawaii; it’s all about P-Town.”


  Moretz also took part in Friday night’s “Modern Love Live” event at Provincetown’s Town Hall. WBUR’s Meghna Chakrabarti hosted the event, which had Moretz, playwright and actress Melinda Lopez, and actor Cory Michael Smith, of “Gotham,” “Carol,” and the festival film “1985,” reading Modern Love essays from The New York Times. Smith, a crowd favorite, read the 2016 essay “Catfishing Strangers to Find Myself” by Kalle Oskari Mattila.