Behind the Scenes at Provincetown Film Fest
By: Elise Hugus, June 19, 2012
DANIEL COJANU - John Waters, Kirby Dick, Parker Posey and Roger Corman take a moment together at a meet n' greet at Land's End Inn in Ptown.
It was a film set on and off the silver screen this week, as independent filmmakers and the audiences that love them flocked to the tip of the Cape for the 14th annual Provincetown International Film Festival.
A range of high-caliber indie features, documentaries, animation and shorts filled the roster, competing with the colorful characters along Commercial Street for entertainment value.
One of the most unique events at PIFF is the chance for the public to go behind the scenes, listening in and asking questions at a live conversation with festival honorees.
At this year’s festival, documentarian Kirby Dick (THE INVISIBLE WAR, TWIST OF FAITH), indie queen Parker Posey (PRICE CHECK, PARTY GIRL, DAZED AND CONFUSED) and “King of the B’s” director-producer Roger Corman (LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, ROCK N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL) had the honor of being interviewed live on stage in front of a packed Town Hall audience.
Queen of the Indies
Parker Posey was interviewed by her acknowledged best friend, author/actor Craig Chester. Informal to the extreme (Posey gets up to stretch mid-interview and Chester suggests he should just send her questions by text message since she rambles so much), the conversation nonetheless provided an inside glimpse of the independent film maven’s real life.
Turns out, it’s not as much PARTY GIRL as it is PRICE CHECK, Posey’s current film about finding forbidden love in a suburban supermarket pricing department.
“Independent films are more focused, more punk rock. We’re all there because we’re on the same page,” Posey said, when asked to compare her experiences on the indie film set and a Hollywood blockbuster like YOU’VE GOT MAIL.
And the winner is...
The HBO Audience Awards, handed out on Sunday evening went to:
- ANY DAY NOW (directed by Travis Fine) - HBO Audience Award Best Narrative Feature.
- THE INVISIBLE WAR (directed by Kirby Dick) - HBO Audience Award Best Documentary Feature.
- DIK (directed by Christopher Stollery) - HBO Audience Award Best Short Film.
- HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE (directed by David France) - The John Schlesinger Award, given to a first time documentary or narrative feature filmmaker
- SHOOT THE MOON (directed by Alexander Gaeta) - Jury Award / Student Short Film
- WHO LASTS LONGER (directed by Gregorio Muro) - Jury Award / Animated Short Film
- TSUYAKO (directed by Mitsuyo Miyazaki) Jury Award / Live Action Short Film
- Short Film Jury Honorable Mentions go to: INSTALLATION, TEACHER OF THE YEAR and ENTRY DENIED
Though it’s not all fun and games on the set of an indie film, Posey said it’s where she has done her best work.
“You can’t believe the miracles that come out. They’ll say, ‘The sun’s coming out and there’s not film in the mag. Can you do this in one take?’ And somehow, you’re like, “Yeah, I can,’” Posey said. “There’s no money, no rehearsals, no privacy… it’s a real edge.”
King of the B-genre
Director-producer Roger Corman may not be a household name, but he led the path for a bevy of filmmakers and actors who are. From Jack Nicholson to Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, he gave some of the most influential names in the industry their start—and the rest of us such gems as ROCK N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS.
He had directed 56 films in 15 years, when one day in the middle of shooting a film in Ireland, he decided that he’d had enough. He went on to produce over 400 others, establishing New World Pictures in 1970, one of the first successful independent film distribution companies—yes, that was back before “indie” became a genre.
Interviewed by Provincetown’s own “king of filth” John Waters, the “King of the B’s” shared his insights on filmmaking, then and now.
Asked about his “research” in preparation for the 1967 psychedelic odyssey THE TRIP, Corman admitted dropping acid was literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It was wonderful, and that was the problem. If the film had really followed my trip, it could be considered to be a pro-LSD film,” he said. Instead, he based the story on conversations with the more adventurous actors Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson, creating a final version that “became a film about all our trips.”
Prince of taboo
Interviewed by filmmaker Mary Harron (I SHOT ANDY WARHOL, AMERICAN PSYCHO), Dick spoke about his fascination with sexual trauma, the subject of TWIST OF FAITH and his most recent documentary, THE INVISIBLE WAR.
In preparation for the film, which earned the PIFF HBO Audience Award for Best Documentary, Dick said he and his producer filmed over 100 interviews with soldiers—both male and female—who had been raped by a fellow soldier in the US military.
Though they only ended up using a handful of the survivors’ stories in the film, Dick said his aim was to show sexual assault is part of military culture, rather than a few incidents in the past.
By the military’s own estimates, 19,000 women have been victims of sexual assault, Dick said, while noting that Pentagon’s studies and statistics are inadequate. Approaching his films with the audience in mind, Dick said he nonetheless hopes to influence policy through his work.
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED, which tackles the Motion Picture Association of America’s secretive ratings system, “had no effect on the MPAA. I’m not sure which is more recalcitrant, the Catholic Church or the MPAA,” he said, jokingly.
But with THE INVISIBLE WAR, he said that he has heard that members of Congress have watched it, prompting the Secretary of Defense to call a press conference announcing an investigation into the incidence of sexual assault in the military.
Accepting the Faith Hubley Career Achievement Award, Dick acknowledged the award’s namesake was “a female pioneer in a male-dominated career. This award is a tribute to the courage of the women in this film.”