Posted by Larry Gleeson
The TCM Classic Film Festival Team kicked off its 2017 edition with an hour-long press conference at the TCL Mann Chinese Theatres inside Auditorium 6, on April 5th, 2017. Jennifer Dorian, General Manager, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and FilmStruck, opened the event with a brief overview of the TCM Classic Movies Film Festival, including two nitrate film screenings, Laura (black & white nitrate) and The Black Narcissist (color nitrate), as well as several upcoming film history commemorations. The last nitrate film was produced in 1952. Dorian also noted emphatically this year’s festival is dedicated to long-time TCM host and film historian, Robert Osborne.
Without missing a beat, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, Festival Director and Vice President of TCM Enterprises & Strategic Partnerships, Genevieve McGillicuddy, and Senior Vice President of Programming of TCM and FilmStruck, Charlie Tabesh introduced themselves and promptly opened up for questions from the press.
The first question posed inquired into this year’s theme of ‘Make ’em Laugh.’ VP of Programming, Charlie Tabesh, responded that while the theme is broad he had to ask himself about how much comedy could the festival contain with film anniversaries, the honoring of talent and special presentations. Nevertheless, Tabesh continued explaining overall an ardent effort was made to have balance for passholders to choose among a range of styles in addition to comedy including noir, tribute films and war movies.
Tellingly, a comment was made that this year’s theme was apropos. Dorian agreed sharing her identification with and the career influence of Mary Tyler Moore through her pioneering feminine role in television and film. TCM Host Mankiewicz chimed in adding what great company TCM is with its diversity as almost every male in the company has had a female superior during their careers.
Several questions surrounded Charles Osborne’s film legacy and the team revealed intentions to honor Osborne were underway with more specific details to come. Presently, numerous Osborne archival videos are available at TCM’s Backlot.
Other questions poured forth regarding the expansion of FilmStruck, the video-on-demand service for film aficionados, developed and managed by TCM in collaboration with the Criterion Collection. GM Dorian proudly stated FilmStruck would be expanding internationally with its deep roster of films from indie studios Janus, Flicker Alley, Icarus, Kino, Milestone and Zeitgeist as well as classic Hollywood studios.
Possibly the most poignant question surrounded the 70th anniversary of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) 1947 Congressional hearings and what, if any, plans were being made to commemorate the Hollywood Ten being cited in contempt of Congress for denouncing the tactics employed by HUAC. Festival Director McGillicuddy responded plans are being made for a major festival in October.
Without further adieu, three additional panelists were introduced – Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of Preservation and Foundation Programs, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Jennifer Ahn, Managing Director, The Film Foundation, and David Strohmaier, Editor/Director, Film Historian and Restorationist. The trio discussed at length the importance of preserving the legacy of film through various restoration projects including the retrofitting of the EgyptianTheatre to enable the festival to screen the historic nitrate films, Laura, The Black Narcissist and The Man Who Knew Too Much. In addition, Strohmaier expounded upon the Cinerama format and the Cinerama Dome mentioning the festival’s screening of the groundbreaking 1952 film, This is Cinerama.
The festival will run through Sunday, April 9th, closing with Speedy (1928) starring Harold Lloyd, followed immediately by the Official Closing Night Party held at Club TCM inside the Historic Hollywood Roosevelt.