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Go Behind the Scenes of the First-Ever TCM Classic Film Festival


Wondering how the Festival programming is being assembled? How will the TCM Classic Film Festival offer a unique experience for festival attendees? Charles Tabesh, Festival and TCM Programmer, answers your questions:


Q: With so many films to choose from, how did you decide what to program for this Festival?


There is no single answer to that question because different films are included for different reasons (so forgive the long answer). We started with a broad theme, ?The History of Hollywood? (we?re big on themes at TCM) and that led us to several categories to explore and certain films that seemed a natural fit. SUNSET BLVD. for example, is not only a great film about Hollywood and its history, but it?s also an incredible experience when you to see it on the big screen. THE STUNT MAN is also about Hollywood filmmaking, and I think it might be a great discovery for a lot of people that haven?t seen it yet. In addition, the behind-the-scenes stories of filmmaking are often so fascinating. For this reason, partnering with Vanity Fair to bring their Tales of Hollywood book to life made a lot of sense, and led us to films like THE PRODUCERS and THE GRADUATE. These are true classics that provide us the opportunity to bring in talent associated with those films to talk about what was happening while they were being made.


Other films easily fell into place. Not only are we able to celebrate the 50th anniversary of BREATHLESS in 2010, with a newly restored print, but we?re incredibly proud to have the North American premiere of the restored METROPOLIS with the lost footage that hasn?t been seen here in decades. We would have wanted to play these films regardless, but we also realized how important each is to the history of Hollywood ? both of these European films had such an influence on filmmaking that they helped to change the way films were made in the United States.


And some people are such an important part of Hollywood history that they had to be celebrated if at all possible. A perfect example is Luise Rainer, a two time Best Actress Oscar winner who just turned 100 this year and deserves to be rediscovered by American audiences. That led us to THE GOOD EARTH, which were her 2nd Oscar win and a film rarely seen on the big screen these days.


There are other films included just because they?re fun, particularly with an audience. A perfect example is Harold Lloyd, whose films are perfect to see with a crowd and live music. Other films have been requested for years by TCM viewers and we haven?t been able to play them on the network for various reasons, films like THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE and SUNNYSIDE UP. I happened to see the notorious British gangster film NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH while preparing for the film festival and right away I knew I wanted to include it since it?s such a fun and unique movie.


And, of course, there are special presentations about parts of Hollywood history that is often forgotten, which I felt were important to include. Leonard Maltin is probably the world?s greatest experts on short subjects, so it made a lot of sense to ask him to curate a program of classic Hollywood shorts. While many films have been lost over the years, the festival presented us with a unique opportunity to work with the Academy and the UCLA film archives on fragments from some of those lost films that still survive, and the festival might be the only opportunity for some of our fans to ever see them. And there are several cartoons that have been out of circulation for many, many years because of their racially offensive content ? this is not an appealing part of Hollywood history, but it?s also something that can?t be ignored, and our festival is a very unique opportunity to put them into their proper context with Donald Bogle providing commentary and insight into their historical significance.


I should add that most of the films I?ve mentioned so far, and most of the rest, were suggestions by other people ? either archivists, or TCM fans, or TCM employees or someone else. For example, we?ll screen A WOMAN'S FACE because Joan Crawford?s grandson specifically requested it as a great example of his grandmother?s work that is very rarely seen on the big screen. My job has been to take all of the ideas and suggestions and figure out how to create a good mix of different eras and genres, ranging from the crowd-pleasing and essential classics, to the rare and intriguing discoveries, and to make sure at any given time, festival goers have several types of options for different tastes.


Q: How much different is this version of A STAR IS BORN (1954) than the 1983 version?


The primary difference is in the incredible restoration of the look and sound. It?s a beautiful film and it makes a real difference to see this version. Honestly, I don?t understand the technology-- how the actual process works-- but the colors and images are truly remarkable, and it?s a different experience seeing this version, especially on a big screen. There was a time last year when I thought we might have had chance at adding the lost footage-- I?m not sure it exists but there have been rumors for years that it does.


Q: How will these classic films be presented? What archives did you work with to secure the films for this Festival?


Each film will be presented with a host or hosts providing context, just as we do on the network. Sometimes that means people who were involved with the films themselves, such as the actors or directors, or people who were an essential part of the filmmaking process, for example Douglas Trumbull, who did the special effects for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Other films will be introduced by experts or historians such as Robert Osborne, Leonard Maltin and Peter Bogdanovich, who can talk about that film?s place in history and why it?s important (or fun) to see it. And others will be from celebrity fans that are passionate about classic movies and want to share that passion with a live audience, very much like the Guest Programmers who are on TCM. In addition, we?re working very hard to get the very best prints for each film. Film archives from around the world have been incredibly helpful, as have the studios. In many cases we?re helping to fund a restoration or we?re paying for new prints to be created. We?re working with the best projectionists and technical experts from the film community. And we?re actually installing new equipment in a couple of the theaters to make sure the presentation and print quality surpasses your expectations - it?s extremely important to us that the quality of what you see is the very best.


And don?t forget that many of the talent associated with these films will be participating in panels and also special presentations at Club TCM in the Roosevelt, all exclusive to passholders, that will provide further opportunity for festivalgoers to enjoy learning more about these films and the people who produced them.


Q: What are you most excited about seeing on the big screen for the first time?


I?m going to cheat on my answer and include some films that I actually have seen on a big screen but am very excited to see again. First, the films that I haven?t seen yet in a theater: THE STUNT MAN (which I?ve only seen on DVD many years ago ? we?re creating a new print and I?m very excited); CARMEN JONES, because Dorothy Dandridge is so appealing and I can only imagine what it will look like on a big screen and having been recently restored; SOME LIKE IT HOT, because I?ve never seen it with a live audience and comedies like that are so much better that way. I could list a lot more, but those would be my top picks so far. As for the films I have seen but am eager to see again: the Harold Lloyd comedies, AN EASTERN WESTERNER and SAFETY LAST are probably at the top of the list because they're so much fun with a crowd; CASABLANCA because we have an archival print which I?m eager to see (and I love it); TOP HAT because Fred and Ginger on the big screen can?t be beat ? I think the ?Cheek to Cheek? scene is maybe the most romantic scene in movie history; THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, again, seeing it with an audience makes it so much better and I can?t wait to re-experience that. And we have not finished programming 100% of the festival at this time?you never know what will be added to finalize the schedule.


Q: Who are you most excited to meet for the first time at the Festival?


Norman Lloyd, who has so many great stories about Hollywood and the people he?s worked with over the years.


Q: What?s your favorite movie?




Edited by: filmlover on Mar 5, 2010 1:47 PM to CAPITALIZE all film titles (some had been in upper and lower)

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There's a nice half-page ad in today's L.A. Times Calendar section:




I was only able to fit the above on the scanner. Missing is the bottom section that says:


"Festival Passes are limited! Go to TCM.COM/FESTIVAL or call 1-877-517-FILM"

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