ACHIEVERS Roger Corman, Parker Posey, and Kirby Dick were the honorees at this years Provincetown International Film Festival.
How do you know you're at the 14th annual Provincetown International Film Festival (June 13-17) and not some other cinephilic shindig? When John Waters chats with B-movie king Roger Corman about dropping acid and dealing with death threats from the Hell's Angels. When Parker Posey cries on cue to show her opinion of the state of movie-making. And when documentarian Kirby Dick explains how his new film instigated much-needed reform of a long-standing injustice.
Posey, Corman, and Dick each picked up one of the festival's career-achievement awards and submitted to the requisite on-stage grilling by a sympathetic host. The 86-year-old Corman was honored with the 2012 Filmmaker on the Edge Award for six decades in the business during which he directed, produced, and/or distributed hundreds of films ranging from camp classics like Little Shop of Horrors (1960) to Federico Fellini's Amarcord, which his studio New World Pictures brought to the US, and which won the 1975 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Perhaps more important, he also sparked the careers of filmmakers such as Francis Coppola, Jonathan Demme, and Martin Scorsese.
As Waters put it in his introduction, "Roger Corman is not just a filmmaker on the edge. He built a new cliff, jumped off it, and crawled back up many times."
During the subsequent discussion, Corman reminisced about some of those ups and downs. Like how he was stymied for suitable LSD imagery while making his cult classic The Trip (1967) and engaged in a brainstorming session with cast members and acid experts Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Jack Nicholson (who also wrote the screenplay) to come up with suggestions. "My own trip was wonderful," he explained. "But the problem was that if the film followed my trip, it would be seen as pro-LSD."
In a more alarming incident, the Hell's Angels sued Corman for $10 million for defamation for his film Devil's Angels (1967). "They also told me they were going to snuff me out. I said, 'Look, if you snuff me out, you won't be able to sue me. My advice would be to forget the momentary pleasure of killing me and go for the $10 million.' "
The Angels finally settled for $2000.
Though not as perilous, Excellence in Acting award-winner Parker Posey has also faced challenges. She has had to balance work in better-paying genre films such as The Eye (2008) with no-budget, auteurist films like Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman (1998), Hal Hartley's Fay Grim (2008), and Michael Walker's Price Check (2012), which screened at the festival. Interviewed by actor/filmmaker and close friend (or, in her words, "gay husband") Craig Chester, Posey noted that in indie films, unlike mainstream ones, "you are a service to a voice you believe in" and joked that her agents "were careful not to send me scripts I might like because I might get the part." When Chester threatened to emulate a Barbara Walters interview and make her cry, she said, "I'll just think about the scripts I've been reading." After a short pause, she shed tears.