Though I was physically exhausted at the end of the fourth day, I was culturally rejuvenated once the 15th Annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival wrapped up. Seeing classic movies in period film palaces reminded me of the power of cinema as well as the joy that comes from seeing them with an appreciative and responsive crowd.

Highlights abounded as the festival got off to a rousing start, much of the cast from Pulp Fiction reuniting for a 30th anniversary screening of the crime classic. John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, and others recounted their experiences on the film, each citing it as a landmark moment in their respective careers. I lost count of how many people had their phones out to snap a photo when those who were in attendance all gathered on stage.

Steven Speilberg was on hand to introduce Close Encounters of the Third Kind, citing the various changes that took place between a similar film he made as a teen and this sci-fi classic.  Anecdotes about Richard Dreyfuss’ casting in the lead role proved not only insightful but amusing.

Equally refreshing was an appearance by Jodie Foster who was on hand for Silence of the Lambs. She revealed that Gene Hackman was initially attached and was going to make his directorial debut with the feature. However, once Jonathan Demme came on board, she knew he’d intended to cast Michelle Pfeiffer as agent Clarice Starling. Foster recounted how she met the director to pitch herself as a second choice, a meeting that proved fortuitous.

The reunion of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman for a showing of The Shawshank Redemption was poignant, the two actors a mutual admiration club, effusively praising each other’s work in the movie. An experience of a completely different sort, the screening of Se7en had director David Fincher on hand. Acknowledging he needed a hit after coming off Alien 3, the filmmaker told how star Brad Pitt was able to smooth over the production’s rough patches by making a phone call and also spoke of the making of the movie’s classic opening credits sequence.

The festival proved to be an embarrassment of riches as it was impossible to take in all there was to offer. And while the overarching theme focused on crime films, the roster was eclectic enough to cater to a wide variety of tastes. I was fortunate enough to see the Barbara Stanwyck-Henry Fonda screwball comedy The Man Miss Manton at the newly renovated Egyptian Theater. Though the seating capacity is smaller than it was originally, the venue has been brought back to its original resplendence.

Even more impressive is the main auditorium at the TCL Chinese Theater. Seating nearly 900 patrons, the sloping seats in the massive auditorium are surrounded by period décor from the 1920’s, topped off by an incredibly ornate ceiling piece. The outside lobby features a vividly rendered red carpet, while images and statues of dragons abound. Built in 1922, walking in is as close as going back in time you’ll likely experience.

And with a festival this big, taking place in Hollywood no less, you never know who you might run into. I crossed paths with actresses Rosanna Arquette, Kate Flannery from The Office and Elsie Fisher from the film 8th Grade, all while either waiting in line or getting ready to have a seat for the next feature. All were kind and welcoming, the festive nature of the event infectious.

More than anything, the gathering of classic film fans is perhaps the most impressive and important thing about the festival. Last year, when TCM was threatened with being shut down, the outcry over the decision came not simply from the film community but from the channel’s loyal fans as well. In an era in which so many teens and those in their 20’s are abysmally ignorant of the heritage of our film history, it was refreshing to stand in line talking to fellow film aficionados. Their passion for cinema is what makes this gathering possible, something acknowledged again and again by the festival hosts. The sense is that as long as viewers keep coming, the TCM Film Festival will continue to grow. Judging by the thousands who attended and their rapturous response to what was shown, the event is likely to continue for many years to come.


Recent Posts
Contact Us

Chuck and Pam would love to hear from you! Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

Stay up to date with Chuck and Pam!
Join our monthly newsletter for behind the scenes looks, special interviews, and bonus content!
We respect your privacy.