Thursday, April 20, 2023

2023 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #4 Recap


The last day of the TCM Classic Film Festival was a tough one for me. I was only able to attend two more events, both in the afternoon and evening and only after spending all morning resting up. I assumed I was suffering from extreme exhaustion so I prioritized the two events most important to me.

After having a quick lunch with a friend, I headed over to the Hollywood Legion for a special 35th anniversary screening of Stand and Deliver (1987). The film is both a modern classic of Latinx cinema but also really important as an inspirational tool for students and teachers. I had never seen it before and I'm glad that I saved my first viewing for this special event.

This screening was part of TCM's theme to celebrate Warner Bros.' 100th anniversary. It began with a Warner Bros. trailer then an introduction by Luis Reyes, film historian and author of the book Viva Hollywood which I reviewed here. Reyes discussed the film and pointed out two of the actors in the audience who played students in the movie. He also spoke briefly about actress and long-time TCM fan Vanessa Marquez who was tragically killed back in 2018. She plays Ana Delgado in the film.

The moment we were all waiting for was for the interview with Reyes and Stand and Deliver stars Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips. I really enjoyed listening to them discuss how they came to the project, the impact the film had on their careers and on countless teachers and their mutual respect for each other. 

Despite feeling under the weather, I was completely engrossed in the film and was swept away by the excellent storytelling, the fantastic characters and performances and the opportunity to cheer on some fellow Latinos in their pursuit for intellectual excellency!

I stayed at the Hollywood Legion to get in line for my next and last event of the festival, a screening of the Rin Tin Tin silent film Clash of the Wolves (1925). TCM host Jacqueline Stewart introduced silent film accompanist Ben Model who then introduced the film. I've been to several performances by Ben Model and he's a unique talent with his ability to respond to the actions and emotions on the screen with his music. His scores are never written down so each performance is a unique experience.

The event didn't disappoint! We all had fun with this nail-biting Rin Tin Tin adventure. My friend Annie and I had a good cry when Rin Tin TIn was injured and left to die. But of course, with Rin Tin Tin being the star of the show, he not only survives but he thrives!

The plan for me was to try to go to the Closing Night Party but my body gave up on me and I decided to call it a night. I'm sad that I wasn't able to say a proper goodbye to my friends. But my decision was ultimately the best one I could make for everyone involved.

Some observations on the festival overall:

  • The festival was scaled back quite a lot this year. There was no imprint ceremony, no big announcement at the media event (see more details on Day #1's recap) and fewer big name guests. I imagine a lot had to due with budget cuts given the recent merger. However, TCM still put on a great lineup of movies, panels, and events for all of us to enjoy. Looking at the schedule you wouldn't guess anything was scaled back.
  • Queueing up for films can be tricky and there had been problems in previous years. This year the volunteers did a stand-up job handling the lines. Line drama was kept at a minimum.
  • There were some nice surprises during the festival including the last minute addition of George Clooney at a screening of Ocean's 11 (2001). And not so nice surprises like a shelter-in-place order due to a shooting on Hollywood Boulevard.
  • Quite a few festival goers caught COVID, including yours truly. I suspect that a combination of the colder weather and the rain made for a fertile breeding ground for the virus. I didn't quite realize that I had it until I got tested right after the festival. I just assumed I was really tired.
  • There was a sense of sadness that hung over us primarily in the days right before the festival. I mostly sensed this from the festival regulars. On the flip side, there were so many first-time festival goers this year and many of them were brimming with enthusiasm.
  • The festival has morphed into something a bit different with time. When I started attending the festival in 2013, each year was absolutely magical. It would be a long weekend packed with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, ones that I would be talking about until the next festival rolled around. With the passage of time and the loss of Robert Osborne and many of the classic film stars who were special guests at the festival over the years, it'll be hard to keep that spark going. This was inevitable and if the festival continues TCM will do a great job trying to give festival goers the best experience they can even as things inevitably change.
  • The most special aspect of the festival has been and will always be the people. The TCM hosts, the presenters, the TCM staff, the volunteers and the passholders all make the festival a social event like no other.

A special thank you to all the folks at TCM for this year's festival!

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