There are plenty of great reasons to go to the TCM Classic Film Festival – seeing movies you love on the big screen, discovering forgotten and long-unavailable films, learning about film history firsthand, seeing some of the greatest actors, directors, and behind-the-scenes talent in the history of motion picture, etc. But one of the things that makes it so enjoyable year after year is getting to do all these things in the company of classic film fan friends old and new. Thanks to Twitter, I have a number of friends who come to the TCM Fest every year, and half of the fun is meeting up with them and flocking from film to film together.
Last year, I was only able to attend a few screenings and a lot of the friend magic wasn’t quite there. I still had a great time seeing the films, of course, but one thing I was determined to do this year was work harder to meet up with people I knew and enjoy the atmosphere of the festival, and I succeeded royally. Even when I happened not to be near friends in line, I chatted with a bunch of random cool people – because, I mean, you’re pretty much automatically cool if you come to TCM Fest, right? Right! I still only attended two days this year instead of all four, but they were two of the best fest days I’ve had.
I’ll do full posts on everything I saw later, so I’m going to focus on the festival experience here. Of course, I realized as I start putting this together that I didn’t take ANY photos during the fest, really, so I’ll still have to illustrate with film stills. Oops.
I spent Thursday evening with visiting family, and I worked Friday morning, so I missed a few notable programs, especially the Dawn of Technicolor program, but I got there in time for Chimes at Midnight. I’ve recently begun planning to complete a bunch of director’s filmographies, and when I checked up on Orson Welles to start sourcing his films, Chimes at Midnight was one that I simply couldn’t find anywhere, so when it showed up on the TCM Fest program, I had to get to it. I ended up pretty early in line, and chatted for a while with the lady in front of me. She and her daughter were there from the Seattle area, and they were returning festival fans. It’s great how many people come year after year, and not just local people – people who come from all over the country and beyond. The lady really loved Orson Welles, and was probably even more excited than I was to see this rarely screened film.
I’m not sure there was anyone I actually knew ahead of time at this screening, though – most of them seemed to pick Young Mr. Lincoln in this time slot (it was a TOUGH time slot; Chaplin’s Limelight was also playing at the same time) largely because it left more time to get in line for pre-Code Don’t Bet on Women in the following timeslot. Scheduling is everything, folks, especially when you’re trying to get into a film playing in Chinese 4, a tiny room that always, always, always sells out. I took my chances with a fifteen minute break between Chimes at Midnight and Don’t Bet on Women, but I hedged my bets a little by sitting on the aisle and skedaddling as soon as the credit started. It worked, I made it in, and my friends Kristen (@salesonfilm) and Marya (@oldfilmsflicker) had saved me a seat right in the center, and I got to meet Kaci (@kacik11) for the first time. Perfect!