Here's the dilemma: you love movies, but you also love the idea of taking a vacation to one of the many inviting resorts that New England has to offer — the beaches of Cape Cod or the Islands, picturesque towns in Maine or Rhode Island, or even the cultural and historical enclaves of Boston itself.
It's not a problem. Every summer, many of these places host world-class film festivals, orgies of outstanding movie fare far from the multiplexes and often just a short walk from the ocean, a lake, a museum, a nature preserve, or a nightclub.
More than just melding movies with relaxation, these festivals also bring audiences in touch with the moviemakers themselves. So you can take a break from the sun and fun with a workshop on comedy with Ben Stiller, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, and Andy Samberg at the Nantucket International Film Festival, or join in a discussion on independent filmmaking with John Waters, Kevin Smith, and Tilda Swinton in Provincetown. Or bump into actors, directors, and fans like yourself in cafés and clubs for an invigorating debate the state of cinema or the merits of the last film you saw.
In short, movies can be more than just a two-hour encounter with air conditioning, and vacations can be more than just a temporary escape from routine. Here are some New England film festivals that can transform a summer vacation into a celebration of the culture of film.
(You're going to have to hurry up if you want to catch the festivities at Provincetown or Nantucket, however. And you're going to have to choose one over the other, as they take place almost simultaneously. But choose quickly and get a move on — they're well worth the trouble.)
PROVINCETOWN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL | JUNE 16 THROUGH 20 | Now in its 11th year, this fest continues to do justice to the funky, arty ambiance of its setting. Befitting its extreme location at the easternmost tip of the US, Provincetown has programmed a number of films about countercultural figures, including Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman's Howl, with James Franco starring as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg; Yony Leyser's documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, about the author of Naked Lunch; and Sam Taylor Wood's Nowhere Boy, starring newcomer Allan Johnson as the young John Lennon.
A highlight is the Filmmaker on the Edge Award. This year, joining past winners such as Guy Maddin, Quentin Tarantino, and Gus Van Sant is the original video-store auteur, Kevin Smith, who is so edgy that he recently threw indie scruples to the wind and made the mainstream comedy Cop Out. Smith won't be screening that, but he will be showing Dogma (1999) and his first and best feature, Clerks (1994).
Joining Smith among the honorees is the Excellence in Acting Award winner, the uncanny and brilliant Tilda Swinton, who will screen her two recent films, Erik Zonca's Julia and Luca Guadagnino's I Am Love, as well as Sally Potter's 1992 adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando, in which Swinton plays an Elizabethan courtier who lives for four centuries, in the course of which she changes from a man into a woman.
Various locations throughout Provincetown | 508.487.3456 | ptownfilmfest.org