This year's winner is sui generis cinema genius Guy Maddin, who will be there to walk you through his surreal and hilarious films, including The Saddest Music in the World and his newest, the short Glorious. In addition, the festival will be presenting its Excellence in Acting award to the most handsome man in the world, actor Alessandro Nivola, who might be showing his new film, Coco Before Chanel. And no festival worth its independents would be complete without a nod to that quintessential American Indie, Woody Allen, whose new film, Whatever Works, will be the opening-night feature.
Various locations throughout Provincetown, Massachusetts | 508.487.3456 | ptownfilmfest.org
NANTUCKET FILM FESTIVAL | JUNE 18 THROUGH 21 | Oh, but Provincetown is just so crowded this time of year, you say. Check out the cobblestone streets, whaling-era architecture, and moonlit waterfront surrounding Nantucket's film fest, which appropriately prides itself on championing that more reflective component of film production: the screenplay. Every year they offer a Screenwriter Tribute to a worthy scribe, and this year it's Harold Ramis of Ghostbusters fame. So take that, those who say film festivals are hoity toity! Not only will Ramis be there to pick up the award, but he will join Ben Stiller, Peter Farrelly, and John Hamburg (director of I Love You, Man, among others) for a comedy workshop. Stop it! You're killing me!
Nantucket also conducts a screenwriting competition, the winner getting a $2000 prize and other perks — such as a chance to meet a big shot who might take an interest and help get that script made into a movie. That happened back in 2006 with that year's winner, Sophie Barthes, who wrote her script with Paul Giamatti in mind. As fate would have it, Giamatti was a guest of that festival. He liked the script, and now he and Barthes are back with the finished product, Cold Souls, the festival's opening-night feature.
Various locations throughout Nantucket, Massachusetts | 508.325.6274 | nantucketfilmfestival.org
FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL | JULY 9 THROUGH 26 | Provincetown and Nantucket are all very well, but they are not Paris. Neither is Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, though its annual French Film Festival is a pretty good substitute. This is one of the top events on the local cinema calendar, and it is a feast of subtitles, sex, intellectual badinage, stunning images, rampant auteurism, and undiscovered genius — and that's just the audience discussion after the screenings.
Among the films to look forward to this year are veteran director Philippe Garrel's Frontier of Dawn (La Frontière de l'aube), a melodrama about fame and folie à deux; Rithy Panh's adaptation of the Marguerite Duras's novel The Sea Wall (Un barrage contre le Pacifique); and Pierre Schöller's moving drama of deprivation and privilege, Versailles, starring Gerard Depardieu. And by all means, don't miss the festivities on Bastille Day.
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts | 617.267.9300 | mfa.org/index.asp
WOODS HOLE FILM FESTIVAL | JULY 25 THROUGH AUGUST 1 | At 18 years, Woods Hole is one of New England's longest-lived festivals, and perhaps the most committed to programming work by local filmmakers. This year, animator Bill Plymton's new short, Horn Dog, will be featured at the Cape Cod festival. Filmmaker-in-residence Bestor Cram will also be on hand to screen his new film, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. And, of course, there can be no greater tribute to the taste and discernment of the festival's directors than their inclusion of the documentary For the Love of Movies: the History of American Film Criticism by Gerald Peary, film critic for the Boston Phoenix.