Women directors won big at this year’s Provincetown International Film Festival, taking home five of the eight prizes awarded.
Isabel Coixet’s “Learning to Drive” landed the HBO Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The film stars Patricia Clarkson as Wendy, a writer in New York struggling to cope with the fact that her husband leaves her for a much younger woman after giving “adultery a spin.” When she is finally forced to learn how to drive — her ex used to do all the driving — Wendy meets Sikh cab driver Darwan (Ben Kingsley), who is willing to teach her how. Coixet described the film to Women and Hollywood as “a sweet and sour comedy about the unlikely friendship between a woman and a man… coming from two different universes.” PIFF clearly loves Clarkson; the Cape Cod festival honored the actress with an Excellence in Acting Award just last year.
Michelle Boyaner’s “Packed in A Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson” received the HBO Audience Award for Best Documentary. It tells the story of artist Edith Lake, who, at the age of 57, was committed to an asylum in 1924, never to be heard from again. The feature follows Lake’s great-niece Jane Anderson, an Emmy-winning writer, in her journey to uncover what happened to her artistic relative and her work.
The HBO Short Documentary Award went to Kitty Green’s “The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul.” Green, who recently directed “Ukraine is Not a Brothel,” a portrait of that country’s topless feminist sensation FEMEN, chronicles the audition process that little girls in the war-torn nation undergo to play former Olympic figure-skating champion and national hero Oksana Baiul. Back in January, Green won the Women in Film Special Recognition Grant for the short and received a $1000 cash grant from WIF, as well as $1000’s worth of budgeting and scheduling software.
Réka Bucsi won the Jury Award for Best Animated Short Film for “Symphony No. 42,” which is comprised of 47 scenes grappling with the connections between humans, animals and nature.
“Share” by Pippa Bianco won the Jury Award for Student Short Film. The 11-minute short documents a girl’s first day back at school after an explicit video of her is uploaded and shared on the internet without her consent. Bianco just earned top honors in the Cinéfondation Selection at Cannes for “Share,” which stars up-and-comer Taissa Farmiga (“6 Years,” TV’s “American Horror Story: Coven”).
This has been a great couple of weeks for female hemers at festivals. Last week, women directors won a number of major awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival, including Beata Gårdeler’s “Flocken” for the World Fiction Award and Kaitlin McLaughlin’s “Pocha (Manifest Destiny)” for the Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature Film.
If you’re interested in how women-directed films fare in the festival circuit compared to their release, check out this research from the Sundance Institute, which explores the long-term careers of women directors.