Thursday, May 19, 2016

A First Time Attendee At Turner Classic Movies Film Festival 2016


Let me first say that Turner Classic Movies is my favorite channel.  It is the only channel where I feel I can bask in my love of classic films.  For the past seven years, TCM has put on a festival in Los Angeles for their fans.  At the festival, fans can go to screenings of numerous vintage films. Along with the films, festival goers  have opportunities to listen to the actors or writers or directors or any other person who played a part in bringing these films to life. 

So it shouldn't be a surprise that I have yearned to attend this festival.  However, there has always been a major barrier to my going: Money.   I simply felt I could not afford to spend the money no matter how much I knew I would have the time of my life.  When I joined Twitter, I found a community of fellow lovers of TCM and Classic Movies.  I would read their tweets and see their pictures of their time at that particular year's festival.  With every account I read, my heart would ache with missed opportunities.  Still, every year I kept telling myself that I could not go.

Then Maureen O'Hara attended the festival in 2014 and they screened one of my all time favorites, How Green Was My Valley.  I missed that year.  Then Maureen O' Hara passed away and I realized I had missed an opportunity to see in person one of my favorite actors at a screening of one of my favorite movies.  It hit me more than ever that these legends won't be around forever.  I can't keep letting opportunities pass me by. So I really started to save.  I made a promise to myself that I was going to attend 2016 Festival.

When passes for the festival went on sale, I bought the Classics Pass.  A fellow festival-goer recommended a hotel for me.  The hotel was in the perfect spot. I was within walking distance of all of the theaters.   I booked my flight.  As it came closer to my traveling to LA, I started to get nervous.  I couldn't believe I was going. I couldn't believe I actually spent so much already and I hadn't even gotten to LA yet. 

When I arrived in LA the nervousness went away.  My very first time in LA! I arrived the day before the festival officially started. I dropped off my bags and I started to walk around. Without even realizing it, I had found my way to Grauman's Chinese Theater. I saw the hand prints and foot prints of actors I have admired my whole life. I actually stumbled upon Harold Lloyd's prints and he is my favorite Silent Film Star.  I walked around that little area and read  the inscriptions and noticed the dates. The dates ranged from 1920s, 1930s and on and on til today. Amazing!


 I walked up and down Hollywood Blvd looking at the Walk of Fame. I found Spencer Tracy whom I have loved watching since I was 9 or 10 years old.  I walked around and looked at the people. Every person that I saw on the streets, I wondered if they were there for the festival as well. Were they just like me?  I made my way to Roosevelt Hotel. A smile broke out on my face when I saw the signs for the TCM Film Festival posted on the hotel.  I had arrived. I had truly arrived. I received an information packet which included a schedule.  Oh boy. That schedule.  Talk about making hard choices. There were so many interesting and rare films. Many playing at the same time. What to do? How to decide? I wanted to see everything.


The first evening of the festival, they showed "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" with actor Ted Donaldson in attendance.  And following that was a screening of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with Katharine Houghton in attendance.  Two of my favorite movies. One which starred Spencer Tracy.  And boy it was an absolute treat listening to these actors speak of their experiences in making their respective films.  In particular with Katharine Houghton.  Listening to her speak of her experience was an eye-opener for me.  I have seen this movie many times over, but I had never really stopped to think what it was like to actually film it during the late 1960s. Also I attended screenings that had guests Carl Reiner, Angela Lansbury, and Eva Marie Saint. Fantastic! These 3 legends are in their 90s and yet they were of clear and crisp mind. They were funny. So full of life.  With each guest interview I had the privilege to attend, I learned what it was like to make the movies that I have loved for years. I got to hear it with my own ears and see with my own eyes. In person.

During the Festival, I had the opportunity to attend a session on Vaudeville.  I saw clips of films that haven't been seen in over 80 years!  How incredible is that?!   It highlights the importance of preservation and restoration.  It would be a shame to forever lose this part of our history.

Also during this Festival, I had the opportunity to meet people who love these movies as much as I do. It was like we were in our own world during those 4 days.  I felt part of a tribe. It was a community and I loved being a part of it.

TCMFF 2016 will not be the last for me.  I have finally experienced it and now cannot stop at just one.