The A-House lost its appeal long ago and the kids don’t want to hang out in front of Spiritus Pizza. That doesn’t mean you have to skip that trip to Provincetown this summer. Even with spouse and children in tow, Provincetown is still the perfect destination — and it’s not just the beaches that offer family fun.
The 16th annual Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF) offers adventurous programming that will appeal to all ages. Adults won’t want to miss “Love Is Strange,” the much-buzzed-about latest feature from Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”) who will attend the screening on June 21 at Town Hall. A multi-generational story of love and marriage, it’s about Manhattanites Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) who finally tie the knot after four decades together. But when coming out gets George fired from his job and they can’t afford to remain in New York, the couple is forced to move in, separately, with various family members. Besides the pain of separation, George and Ben must deal with unexpected lessons about the meaning of family.
Also notable on the schedule the new documentary “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” about Massachusetts’ own firebrand and the first openly gay congressman in the United States. The intimate portrait covers Frank’s 40 years in office and his 2012 marriage to Jim Ready. Frank and filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandor will attend the June 20 screening at Town Hall.
For the entire family, the PIFF offers “A Night at the Drive In” on June 18 featuring a double bill of two classics: the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” and Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws.” It takes place at the Wellfleet Drive-In, the only drive-in left on Cape Cod. It’s a great place to introduce the kids to two great films on the big screen and the lost pleasure of watching movies from lawn chairs under the stars or while nestled in the backseat of the car.
The PIFF aims to engage and cultivate new film audiences, so it has programmed a high-quality family adventure movie from Spain, along with an animated short from Australia. “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang,” directed by Óskar Santos, is about twin brothers Zip and Zap who are caught stealing the answers to their final exams and must spend the summer at a boarding school run by a no-nonsense headmaster. Recommended for ages 9 and up, the film is in Spanish with English subtitles. It screens June 22 at 11:30 a.m. along with the animated short “Little Big Hero.”
July 26-August 2
For more traditional summer fun fashioned especially for nontraditional families, there’s Provincetown Family Week. Launched 19 years ago to provide a supportive environment for LGBTQ families, the event now attracts about 500 families -- an estimated 1,500 people. Co-presented by the Family Equality Council and COLAGE, Family Week runs July 26 to August 2 with activities such as a beach picnic at Herring Cove, a clambake at the Pilgrim Monument, “kidpalooza” events for the youngest set, and teen discussion groups at locations around town including Provincetown High School.
From its modest beginnings in 1996 when Tim Fisher and Scott Davenport, a New Jersey couple vacationing in Provincetown with their kids, met other gay and lesbian parents at the beach and invited them to their rented house for dinner, Family Week has evolved into a destination event for LGBTQ families from all over the world. Cultural changes have also meant shifts in demographics, says Morgan Jacobus, program associate with Family Equality Council who says last year’s Family Week attracted 60 percent gay dads.
It’s an important event on the Provincetown tourism calendar, not just because of the economic boost but also because it introduces young people to the town, says Anthony Fuccillo, director of tourism. “We have seen the Provincetown population of families shrink over the past years. The same is true for all of Cape Cod,” he says. “We encourage parents to bring their children to Provincetown to enrich their lives and the lives of the community. The Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum always sees a swell in attendance during Family Week. The families shop in town, eat in town and enjoy the national seashore while here. ... The mix of families attending continues to change. Originally, all the families were same sex parents. Like every group, as the equality landscape changes, more and more opposite sex parents are mixing with same-sex parents.”
Robin Marquis, COLAGE's National Program Director, also notes an ever-broadening definition of family at the event. “We see a lot more surrogacy now than even a few years ago. We learn what issues come up for teens and integrate them into workshops and discussions,” she says. Family Week’s “outspoken generation” chats for teens tackle topics such as donors and insemination, adoption, bullying, having gay parents and how to talk to parents about sex, Marquis says.
What makes the teen groups so rewarding and supportive is that they are facilitated by teens who “grew up going to Family Week as kids,” says Marquis. “We have ‘lifers’ who start out coming as babies and around age eight start coming to our programs. We have kids who come back every year; this is their family vacation.
“The aim is for education and fun to go hand in hand,” says Marquis. “Family Week allows them to be in a space to have meaningful conversations and have a great time, too. You can’t have one without the other. It’s not just support; we want to empower young people.”