Gabrielle Hanna Talks Provincetown Film Society Departure


Gabriella Hanna with Lisa Viola, Connie White, Jared Earley & Andrew Peterson. Photo by Bruce Gilbert

The Provincetown International Film Festival wrapped up a milestone 15th edition last weekend, where audiences were treated to a conversation between John Waters (a summertime P-town resident) and Harmony Korine, a host of films and filmmaker appearances, and an inaugural block party, which closed out the five-day event. The closing night awards also marked a milestone for the Provincetown Film Society's long-time Executive Director, Gabrielle Hanna, who will step down officially in July after 10 years in the role in which she presided over spectacular growth at the organization.

"I love the festival and thought it had so much potential," Hanna told FilmLinc Daily. "I felt I had a lot to bring and that I could successfully take it on and have it grow."

And grow it did. From the initial five-day festival, Hanna and her team built a year-round program centered in the historic town at the tip of Cape Cod, growing the organization's budget from under $300K to over $1 million. A cornerstone of the group's growth was a three-year capital campaign, which has raised nearly $1 million dedicated to the purchase and renovation of the Waters Edge Cinema, which operates year-round with two screens featuring state of the art digital equipment as well as a video art gallery. 

Other pillars of the organization, who will presumably carry on, are Artistic Director Connie White, Director of Programming Andrew Peterson, Senior Programmer Lisa Viola and Programming Director Jared Earley, Art Director Sally Brophy and Volunteer Director Katie Ledoux. Veteran publicist Jeff Hill, long time a fixture in the New York film scene and now based in California, has overseen PR for the group.

"I've been here for 10 years and I think that's a long time for someone to lead an organization," added Hanna. "I'm a firm believer that organizations need new blood and new ideas." Hanna noted that the new theater is the only art house cinema within 50 miles of Provincetown, a community that has long embraced artists and art forms that go beyond the mainstream.

PFS has partnered with other groups in Provincetown for off-season programs, including one called "A Whale of a Tale," which spotlighted ocean-themed films. "That was really a success," she said. "We want to continue to create programs like that and keep showing films year-round." 

A favorite summer destination, the population of residents and visitors balloons in the summer months, but Provincetown has its fair share of year-round citizens as well. The picturesque community was also the site of the first stop by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620 before heading to Plymouth. It is also considered the oldest artist colony in the U.S.

Hanna's legacy will also be tied to the establishment of the fledgling Provincetown Film Institute, which is still in its early stages. Details are coming together, but the plan is to focus the Institute on the off-seasons with a two pronged approach. "It's still in formation, but the goal is to have a launching event next Spring," said Hanna. "The Film Institute will be mostly a mentoring and residency program for filmmakers in addition to organizing classes for the community—so it will have two pieces."

While Hanna said she is stepping down from a formal role, she will continue to support PFS and Institute. She is looking forward to time off, but is also excited about working on a film project from a decidedly different angle in addition to spending time with family and some volunteer work.

"I'm going to be an executive producer for Ira Sachs' new movie, Love Is Strange," said Hanna. "I've always been fascinated by that side of the business and want to learn more about it."

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