Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival officially got underway on Thursday, April 28th, but I arrived in Hollywood on the 27th for a full day of festival-related events.

Originally rain had been forecast for the weekend, but it was a beautiful day in Hollywood:

I started off Wednesday at TCM headquarters at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel...

...where I picked up my media credential.

There was a very nice gift bag which included a membership to the new TCM Backlot club, which I'll be reporting on later; a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola's Cafe Zoetrope Merlot; and Jeremy Arnold's attractive new book for TCM, THE ESSENTIALS: 52 MUST-SEE MOVIES AND WHY THEY MATTER. I later saw Arnold introducing a couple of the weekend's movies.

The 2016 program guide:

After lunch it was time for the annual TCM press conference, featuring TCM's head programmer, Charlie Tabesh...

...and (left to right) TCM General Manager Jennifer Dorian, host Ben Mankiewicz, and festival director Genevieve McGillicuddy.

The press conference is always an interesting peek into the current state of TCM. Some of the information gleaned:

*They would most like to have Doris Day as a guest but believe it's very unlikely at this point.

*Sidney Poitier is also a sought-after guest.

*The number of festival attendees was projected at 26,000, a total I found surprising; it includes those who purchase standby tickets to single screenings. I'd love to get more data on this in the future.

*Festival passes sold more quickly this year, with the high-end Spotlight and Essential passes for this year's festival selling out in 14 minutes. There are no current plans to add more screenings or passes; they want to be very careful with growth.

*On the ever-contentious question of showing 35mm vs. digital, Tabesh said that the "reality" is that the studios want them to show their digital restorations, and a beautiful digital print is often a better experience than 35mm. McGillicuddy added that if they only showed one format, it would hamper what they could show. (While I have not yet taken the time to compare this year's program guide with past festivals, I believe the number of 35mm screenings was reduced this year. One-third of the 15 films I saw were in 35mm.)

*Tabesh also said that now that the festival is established, studios are interested in having their restorations ready for the festival as a way to "launch" and call attention to new prints.

*In terms of titles shown, Tabesh said "nothing is off the table" to be shown at the fest. For instance, there's "not a limit" for foreign language films, although he acknowledges that attendees mostly come for "classic Hollywood." (During the weekend I heard reports of some "newer" films such as ROCKY and CINEMA PARADISO being relatively lightly attended; it would be interesting to get a look at all those numbers, as well as to see whether they inform next year's programming decisions.)

*TCM has looked into a screening at the Hollywood Bowl during the festival but not been able to make the calendar work.

I'll be sharing press conference information on the new TCM Backlot fan club and FilmStruck streaming service in a separate post. (Update: TCM News: FilmStruck and TCM Backlot.)

For additional information on the press conference, please visit Raquel's coverage at Out of the Past.

I had reconnected with several longtime blogging friends at the press conference, after which we said hello to even more friends at a poolside "early bird" party at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

Later that evening a number of us enjoyed a relaxed, convivial meal together at Miceli's. After dinner I called it a night at that point; being a bit tired after all my recent commuting to the Noir City Film Festival, I decided to forego a post-dinner trip to the Formosa Cafe this year in favor of resting up at my hotel for the very busy next four days!

As I close this post, here's a roundup of some of the initial festival posts by other bloggers:

"TCMFF 2016 Wrap-Up" by Joel at Joel's Classic Film Passion

"The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival" by Kristina at Speakeasy

"TCM Classic Film Festival 2016: Day 1 and 2 Recap" by Raquel at Out of the Past

"Highlights From the TCM Classic Film Festival" by Lara at Backlots

"TCMFF 2016: A Brief and Exhausted Summation (With More to Come)" by Kim at I See a Dark Theater

"Queen of Hearts (and Diamonds): Angela Lansbury Remembers the Manchurian Candidate at the TCM Classic Film Festival" by Nora at The Nitrate Diva

"TCMFF Part 1 and Part 2" by Kate at Silents and Talkies

"The 2016 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival: Even More Adventures in Paradise - Part 1" by Karen at Shadows and Satin

"Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) 2016 Wrap-Up" by Danny at Pre-Code.Com (lots more links at the top of the post!)

"TCMFF 2016 - Initial Wrapup" by Chris at Blog of the Darned

"The TCM Festival 2016: The Hollywood Experience" by Mike at Mike's Take on the Movies


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Laura! I enjoyed reading your information about the press conference, especially since I missed it! :( I look forward to reading about all the movies you saw!

6:23 AM  
Blogger Silver Screenings said...

It's incredible to think that the Spotlight and Essential passes sold out in 14 minutes!!

How amazing would that be, to have a screening at the Hollywood Bowl? I really hope they're able to schedule one in the future.

A great start to the festival, and your series. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'll be back for more! :)

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing some tidbits from the press conference! I'm reeeeally curious about how movies would look being screened at the Hollywood Bowl now. It sounds fantastic! I'm looking forward to reading more!

11:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

Very exciting and interesting to read your account so far of two obviously fantastic classic film festivals, Laura!
I really look forward to reading what you have to say about your (I believe) first viewings of "BRIEF ENCOUNTER", "LAW AND ORDER" & "THE FALLEN IDOL".

1:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Karen, you're welcome, and I'm glad I could share that info! I'm enjoying your posts. :)

Ruth, wouldn't that be fun? I've been to a couple of "movie nights" at the bowl, hosted by Robert Osborne on one occasion and Eva Marie Saint on the other, and it was a lot of fun.

Odestodust, glad I could share the information. Thank you for stopping by!

Jerry, I was able to see (and really enjoyed) BRIEF ENCOUNTER, but not the other films. I heard very good things about LAW AND ORDER and hope I get another chance! I did see Walter Huston in another pre-Code film with scripting by John Huston, William Wyler's A HOUSE DIVIDED, which was really compelling. I hope to write about it fairly soon! (Came home to a huge work load but that's a good thing, other than keeping me from blogging as quickly as I'd like! LOL.)

Thank you all!

Best wishes,

6:52 PM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

"A HOUSE DIVIDED" is also supposed to be very good. BTW John Huston also scripted "LAW AND ORDER". I have a very interesting article on the film by western film historian, William K. Everson, which I will try to scan and attach to an e-mail, Laura. I think you would find it interesting, as I did.

11:22 PM  
Blogger Kristina said...

Just repeating what I tweeted to you, I managed to see 10 of my 15 in 35mm without even trying, and I'd be really interested in seeing year-to-year comparisons too. Also super curious to read your thoughts on the Backlot club!

8:51 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Thanks for the links. It was wonderful spending time with you during TCMFF. I look forward to your continued coverage!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I'll enjoy that article! (How appropriate it's by William K. Everson as I bought one of his books during the festival!) A HOUSE DIVIDED was very memorable.

Kristina, that's so amazing you saw 10 in 35mm -- twice as many as me!! (At least I saw all 16 Noir City films in 35! LOL.)

My pleasure, Raquel, I'm really enjoying your posts! I always look forward to spending time together at the festival, it's a wonderful time!

Best wishes,

11:43 PM  

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