The TCM Classic Film Festival got underway last Wednesday, April 24th, with TCM personalities available for a day of media appearances and interviews at the festival headquarters, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
I shared some details about the day in my festival preview, but now that the festival is over I have time to share some additional information.
TCM's Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, Charlie Tabesh, and Genevieve McGillicuddy attended a press conference where most, if not all, of those present were classic film bloggers. (That in itself is an interesting commentary on how media is changing and becoming more specialized.) Robert Osborne shared that one of the most interesting things about how the festival has developed is that passes now sell out prior to festival programming being announced, which gives programmer Charlie Tabesh and his colleagues more latitude in the titles they can choose; they are able to look beyond big name crowd pleasers at lesser-known titles.
Mr. Osborne also shared that one of the greatest pleasures of the festival is meeting other like-minded people, and I can certainly attest that that's the case! He also commented on how interesting it is that so many younger viewers watch TCM and attend the festival.
He said that he is proud of the print quality on TCM and how TCM continually works to obtain better prints, and he's enthused about increasing opportunities to show films from Universal and 20th Century-Fox. Among the films being shown at the festival, he was particularly excited about THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946), CLUNY BROWN (1946), and THE DESERT SONG (1943), as well as the Ann Blyth tribute.
Ben Mankiewicz commented on the rise of social media as a way for fans to connect with TCM, and particularly noted the very popular TCM Party, where fans on Twitter discuss films showing on TCM in real time as they watch. He said that online, via opportunities such as TCM Party, fans get a little of the shared experience which the festival provides; he mentioned that friendships are formed online as people connect thanks to love for TCM and that many people who have met online then meet in person at the festival. Again, that was something I experienced myself over the past few days!
Mr. Mankiewicz also commented on TCM's ability to touch people "in a special, particular way" and noted that he watches ESPN but doesn't care about it the way fans do about TCM. He said that there is a "significant connection" between TCM and its viewers and that TCM feels "a welcome sense of obligation" towards its audience.
TCM programmers Charlie Tabesh (seen below) and Genevieve McGillicuddy spent some time discussing the digital revolution. They mentioned liking 35mm, which is how the films were originally shown, but said that if they have a choice between a poor 35mm print and a digital restoration, they'll go with the digital print.
Another interesting fact is that TCM is not allowed to collect ratings; it was stated that being commercial-free is the "core" of the TCM brand and that will not ever change.
The interviews I mentioned seeing recorded last week are now available in a video gallery at the TCM Festival website, including Ben's interviews with Theodore Bikel, Michael Badalucco, and Marvin Kaplan, plus Robert Osborne's talk with Jane Withers, who is 87 and was just terrific, an absolutely delightful lady. The crowd gathered in the lobby for the Kaplan interview can be glimpsed below.
For additional thoughts from Robert Osborne, be sure to check out a one-on-one interview conducted by Danny Miller for MSN. As it happens, Mr. Osborne shared that someone he had really wanted to meet was Deanna Durbin, whose passing was announced today.
Coming soon: An overview of Day 1 and a review of the first film I saw at the festival, Stanley Kubrick's film noir THE KILLING (1956), with much more to come over the next few days!