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Think Global, Film Local

by Rebecca M. Alvin

The annual Provincetown International Film Festival brings us work from around the globe, representing a huge range of storytelling practices, themes, and experiments that can entertain, provoke, and move us in that way only the cinema can. But it is also a place to see local and regional films you might not see anywhere else, films that represent a variety of experiences, viewpoints, and results. And this year is no different. Documentary and fiction, short and feature-length films—there is a range of opportunities over the course of the five-day event (June 12 – 16) to check in with the specifically Provincetown and New England  talents and perspectives on larger themes that reach far beyond our region. Several directors and cast members are scheduled to attend their screenings, so you can ask questions and give direct feedback after the films. Here’s a day-by-day snapshot.

James Madio as Willie Pep in The Featherweight 

The Featherweight (2023, 99 min.)
Thursday, June 13, 1:30 p.m. 
(and again on Sunday, June 16, 4 p.m.)

The Featherweight is a fictional story about former real-life featherweight champion, Sicilian-American Connecticut native, Willie Pep, played charmingly by James Madio. The film’s premise has Pep being filmed for a documentary about his life and his planned return to boxing at age 42. Director Robert Kolodny, who actually has experience as a documentary filmmaker, does a great job in creating scenes that evoke nonfiction filmmaking, especially those with the Italian-American community in Hartford, whose authenticity adds a whole lot to this film. As Pep’s fourth wife, Cape Cod native, Ruby Wolf does an excellent job conveying the frustration of a young woman with her own hopes and dreams married to a much older, very conventional Sicilian man in the 1960s. Wolf has appeared in many Cape Cod theater productions and this is her feature film debut.

Marco Pigossi as Laurenço in High Tide

High Tide (2024, 101 min.) 
Friday, June 14, 6:30 p.m. 
(and again on Sunday, June 16, 1:30  p.m.)

The themes in High Tide, a film about a Brazilian immigrant on a temporary visa living in Provincetown and falling in love with an African-American tourist from Queens, N.Y., have rarely been explored in films about our area. Laurenço (Marco Pigossi) wants to stay in Provincetown where he can be out without scandal and shame. But he is also grieving the loss of an important relationship, and deeply afraid of taking the risks necessary to love again. When he meets Maurice (James Bland), the chemistry is immediate. Aside from the pleasure of watching two attractive men pursue a romance, High Tide is imbued with realistic criticism of the different forms of subtle and not-so-subtle racism that impact these characters in different ways, with Maurice facing distrust and fear from well-meaning neighbors and Laurenço being objectified and fetishized for his foreignness. Marisa Tomei also appears in an excellent performance as an artist and sympathetic friend to Laurenço. This a great film to take in while here in its actual setting, and it will hopefully generate some thoughtful discussions.

Darlene Van Alstyne and Kenny Lockwood in Artists on the Edge

Shorts 7: Ptown Stories (three films, 68 mins.)
Saturday, June 15, 1 p.m. 

All three films included in this shorts program are documentaries, but the stories they explore are unique. Artists at the Edge (2024, 37 min.), directed by Patrick Riviere, is a film about two of our very talented local artists, Kenny Lockwood and Darlene van Alstyne. They generously share their stories with us, letting us in on some of what has made them who they are today, including relationships with parents, coming out, finding their creative passions, and living and working in Provincetown full-time. It’s On Fire (2023, 16 min.), directed by Shon Keane, offers a small slice of what TransWeek (formerly called Fantasia Fair) has meant to some of its attendees and how meaningful Provincetown itself has been as a safe and open space for people to live out loud for the time they are here, accepted and loved in a community that has hosted this, the longest running transgender event in the country since 1975. And finally, Amedeo Gjurra’s Pole Me Up B!tch (2024, 15 min.) is a powerful portrait of one man’s struggles with addiction here in town as he brings his pole-dancing classes to the community. Casey, originally from Texas, is compelling to watch and gives Gjurra unfettered access to help show who he is in this revealing film. Together these three short films do offer a look at several facets of this unique town.

Gopal Divan in What You Left in the Ditch

Shorts 3: New England (six films, 69 mins.)
Sunday, June 16, 4 p.m. 
(also screening on Friday, June 14, 1:30 p.m.)

Three of the films in the New England section could just as well have been in the Ptown Stories program because they are by Provincetown people. Lise King’s Entwined  (2024, 8 mins.) is one segment of four made for the Mystic Seaport Museum about indigenous people and their relationship to the materials of the natural environment. In this segment, specifically the wood used to make boats is revered and discussed by Native American boatbuilders and a West African woman who bond over their respective cultures’ spirituality in the every day. My Love is a Well (2024, 5 mins.) is by local artist/mask maker Mike Sullivan, who features his wondrous masks in a short, wordless piece shot in the natural environment, celebrating self-expression. And finally, filmmaker Amy Davies gives us the documentary Making Waves (2023, 8 mins.) about six artists in town, documenting their processes and inspirations in a four-image split screen that highlights the creativity of these individuals and of Provincetown.

A standout of the festival is included in this program. What You Left in the Ditch (2024, 17 mins.) is based on a short story by Aimee Bender (who also wrote the screenplay) about the difficulties the spouse of a wounded veteran of some future American war faces as she comes to terms with how he has been changed physically, as well as mentally by his experiences. The performances are top-notch under Tucker Bliss’ direction, with Grace Rex playing the struggling wife, Gopal Divan as her husband, and Brendan Kispert as the sexy but adorable 19-year-old cashier at the supermarket who flirts mercilessly with her, tempting her into a brief encounter. The film is funny, emotionally mature and resonant, and beautifully shot and edited. Definitely a must-see of the festival.

The marvelously weird Exuma (2023, 11 mins.), directed by Eli Powers, revolves around a construction worker who is injured at an asphalt factory and proceeds to lose his mind. The program is rounded out by a film about alcoholism and the difficulties of getting help when you need it. Danica Jensen’s Get You Better (2024, 20 mins.) follows a couple as Devin (played by Jensen) tries to get her boyfriend Wesley (Baldur Thor) into rehab, only to find that his temporary sobriety is a stumbling block.

For tickets and details on these and all of the films and events at the Provincetown International Film Festival (June 12 – 16), call 508.487.FILM, visit or go to the box office at 229 Commercial St., Provincetown.

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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