Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Thoughts on the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Thank you to the good folks at TCM for hosting another fantastic festival and for allowing me media access for the fifth year in a row. I feel so privileged to have been to this festival so many times and to share the love of classic film with my fellow movie lovers. TCM Classic Film Festival is magical and anyone who has attended it will agree. If you've always wanted to go but have never been, start saving your pennies now and make it a point to attend in 2018. (I even have some tips on how I budget for TCMFF.)

Every time I go to TCMFF I come back with memories that keep me going throughout the year. Any time I'm feeling down I just think about all the fun I had at the last festival and I immediately cheer up. My work cubicle is adorned with festival passes, buttons and photos of the red carpet and imprint ceremonies. They serve as a daily reminder of those four wonderful days of the year where I live my classic film dream.

My thoughts:

TCMFF is part of my continuing film education. The festival always pushes me to learn about new-to-me films and to explore aspects of movie history I hadn't before. I always make it a point to read all (yes all) of the film descriptions and special guests bios. At first when I looked at the schedule of films I wasn't too elated. But once I started poring through the schedule and read about the films (I watched some trailers) too, I became more excited about new discoveries and revisiting old favorites.

Old favorites - It was a thrill to see Elia Kazan's epic America America (1963) on the big screen. And while Red-Headed Woman (1932) seemed a bit sillier to me on this viewing it was still great fun seeing it with an audience of Pre-Code enthusiasts. I'm so glad I made time to watch Best in Show (2000) which was even funnier than I remembered.

New favorites - What's Up, Doc? (1974) was hilarious and a great way to kick off my San Francisco adventure. I finally got to see The Graduate (1967) in its entirety. I quite enjoyed the gritty boxing film Requiem For a Heavy Weight (1956), the French drama Panique (1946), Mel Brooks' Alfred Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety (1977) and Michael Douglas' nuclear thriller The China Syndrome (1979).

My approach to this year's festival was the most successful. I relied on a flexible schedule that accommodated time for friends, food and fun. I missed programming blocks to have meals, stop by Larry Edmund's for some book shopping, to write and to rest. I attended fewer events but enjoyed them individually much more than I would have had I been more tired and hungry.

The projection of the interviews on the big screen at TCL Chinese Theatre made a huge difference. I also liked the projection of Club TCM events on the small screens behind the bar. Great idea on TCM's part. I remember in 2015 struggling to see Sophia Loren at the TCL even though we sat fairly close to the front. I hope TCM adds this projection to the Egyptian and the bigger of the Chinese Multiplex theatres too.

The red carpet event was amazing. I feel very privileged to have been able to attend. I got some good face time with Dick Cavett, Todd Fisher, Leonard Maltin, Stathis Giallelis and more and some interaction with Walter Mirisch, Fred Willard and Ruta Lee. Full report and video to come!

Dick Cavett was the top highlight for me. Talking to him on the red carpet and seeing him at Club TCM. My first ever post on this blog was about Dick Cavett and I've been an admirer her for years. I'm forever grateful to have been able to see him and interact with him as much as I did.

The overall flow of the festival was good this year. I had no issues with lines, the volunteers were all super friendly and loved chatting with us, every event I attended started on time and I enjoyed most of the presentations and all of the interviews. I loved spending some time with TCM staffers and seeing them out and about. They are the backbone of the festival.

There were a few negatives...

I did not enjoy Lady in the Dark (1944) at all. It was a downer to end the festival with a film I thought to be boring and sexist. At least it had beautiful Edith Head costumes? While I'm so glad I did a midnight screening and Zardoz was the perfect bad movie to watch with friends, it really threw my schedule off for the remaining two days. I have to face the fact that I'll always be a morning person.

While I had great fun at the Carl and Rob Reiner Hand and Footprint Ceremony, we had a terrible view and security confused us low-level media members with passholders and they unceremoniously kicked us out before we could get a word in edgewise. I unfortunately missed my opportunity to take a photo of the freshly imprinted cement.

I didn't get to see Sidney Poitier which was a personal dream of mine. He didn't walk the red carpet and I wasn't able to get into the opening night screening. I was quite despondent about it.

This was my first year attending the festival after giving up caffeine. With nothing to keep me awake I did end up napping a little through a couple of the movies. Luckily I only missed a few minutes of each rather than whole chunks.

Family reunion with Kim, Carlos, Raquel, Millie, Diana, Sabina, Kate, Casey, Laura, KC and Lindsay. Photo by Doug

For me, the best part of TCMFF will always be spending time with the classic film community. We are the true rock stars of the festival. We are part of Robert Osborne's legacy and we'll continue spreading the movie love for decades to come.

I'm grateful to have spent so much time with dear friends. This is usually my one chance to see them in person. For the rest of the year we're relegated to communicating only through social media. I made it a point to spend more time with folks I hadn't been able to talk to at length at previous festivals. This planned worked beautifully. During TCMFF I treasure every moment I get to spend with them face-to-face. Here are some of the friends I was privileged to spend some time with this year.

Raquel and Millie

Raquel and Kate

Millie, Raquel, Kate and Casey

Casey and Raquel. Photo by Casey

Raquel and Aurora

Danny and Raquel

Karen, Raquel and KC

Jay and Raquel

Carlos and Raquel photo bombed by Danny and Kristen

Raquel and Matt

Marya, Raquel and Noralil

Aubrey and Raquel

Joel and Raquel

Raquel and Sabina

Until next time!

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