Provincetown Film Festival, 1999
Will there be a ribbon-cutting at the First Provincetown International Festival? I queried Marianne Lampke, who, with her Brattle Theatre partner Connie White and P-Town's PJ Layng, was doing the producing and programming. No. Just show up at the Opening Night. That's what I did, for the screening of Gregg Araki's Splendor, at the New Art Cinema
on Commercial Street.
A good sign: almost a full house. Splendor, fairly funny, is about a young woman with two lovers, and eventually the three share a bed. The woman gets pregnant, the men squabble about which is the father. The woman, tired of their immaturities, becomes engaged to a neutered, yet nurturing TV director. On the day of the wedding, the two ex-beaus to the rescue!
Filmmaker Araki used to be very gay, so they say, when he made anarchic, bisexual indies such as The Doom Generation and The Living End. Now he's "come in," a friend of his noted, and he's lovey with his Splendor star, Kathleen Robertson. Maybe that's why the men in Splendor never become lovers, and there's that baby stuff.
Both answered questions afterward. The genial Araki, with his dark bangs, looks like an Apache, and Robertson, with glasses, curly hair, and a deliciously upturned nose, like, my friend observed, "a pint-sized Nicole Kidman."
"My films are a reflection of where I am, a place of love and good vibes instead of Nine Inch Nails," Araki said. "The soul of this film isn't so different from my other films, just another genre." Araki calls Splendor a screwball comedy, his favorite genre attending film school at UC-Santa Barbara. "I've seen all of them: His Girl Friday, The Philadelphia Story, Design for Living, and Bringing Up Baby, my favorite of all time."
His next project? "I'm frustrated with the problem of getting a distributor, getting an audience. So I'm developing a series for MTV, my version of a Dawson's Creek. They are paying me to write the pilot."
After the opening film: a great P-Town Fest opening night party by a swimming pool at the Brass Key Guest Houses. Shrimp, lox, and the champagne flowed. Among the fabulous guests: Pink Flamingos superstar, Mary Vivien Pierce, up from Baltimore.
The next day, I returned to Boston and missed popular screenings: Head On, Dope, Loose Ends, and, worse, the main event, An Evening with John Waters, with the Phoenix's own Stephen Mindich presenting Waters with a Filmmakers on the Edge Award. But I did have a lunch with Waters, and heard about his major purchase while in Paris: The Margaret Duras Cookbook. I also got a copy autographed (on an anonymous rump) of Waters's 500 copy mini-book, 12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot.
"This is how Cannes started out," Waters talked approvingly of the Festival," as an off-season event. What better reason to visit town? And they picked really good movies. I've been coming to P-Town for 35 years without a festival. Finally, we have it!"
And in 2000? "A giant screen so the whole Provincetown can watch movies in front of the wharf... A lesbian sidebar... Bad straight movies so all the gays can laugh at straight people... a sexually incorrect film festival!"