To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Provincetown International Film Festival — which begins Wednesday — we thought we’d check in with John Waters, who’s been involved with the celebration from the start. We asked the resident artist to tell us some of his favorite memories from two decades of PIFF, and he was quick to come up with a list.
His highlights included the appearance of Quentin Tarantino, who was in P-Town in 2008 to pick up the Filmmaker on the Edge Award. (This year, that prize will go to “The Florida Project” director Sean Baker.” Waters — who leads the annual onstage interview with the winner of that honor — said that when Tarantino was in town, people noticed. “When he walked down the street, it was like the Rolling Stones were here. People went crazy. And I love to see a director get that response from the public,” he said.
Another famous face that stood out for Waters was Tilda Swinton’s.
“Because she has such an extreme fashion look,” Waters said. “She made no makeup chic, really. She would wear designer outfits and no makeup — that’s so radical, I think. I just loved to see her radicalness being in Provincetown.” Swinton won the Excellence in Acting Award in 2010.
Waters also remembers being charmed by Kevin Smith, who won the Filmmaker on the Edge Award in 2010.
“He was so amazed to meet gay bears, because he said that even though he’s not gay, he said, ‘Oh, there’s a minority that finds me really sexy — how great!’ Which I thought was hilarious and very liberated.”
When we asked Waters about memorable festival parties, he was quick to tell us that we — as in the Globe — ruined one of his best traditions.
“I always used to have a popper party every year — until The Boston Globe outed it and the entire town crashed it, and I had to cancel it. It was true. I saw Academy Award winners, top critics doing poppers for the first time. It was a private party. And The Boston Globe wrote about it! I forget who wrote about it. . . . Once that happened, the entire town crashed, and it was like the party in “Mother!” — if you saw that movie, where people went crazy. That was one memory that is no longer. It ended it. I don’t know how they found out about it.”
For the record, it does look like a Globe writer (not this one!) revealed the Waters party in 2013.
On behalf of the institution we say: Sorry.