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Podcast Episode 74: Saints, Cinemas And The TCM Film Festival

If cinemas are your church, TCMFF is your mecca

Credit: Capitol Film Exchange

Above: "The Passion of Joan of Arc" screened with a live orchestra and choir at the 2016 TCM Film Festival, a mecca for film lovers.

Episode 74: Saints, Cinemas, and TCM Film Fest

A wrap up of TCM Film Festival 2016 with TCM's Charles Tabesh and Millie DeChirico, as well as TCM Party people, all celebrating cinema as a church.

Subscribe to the Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.


Cinema Junkie takes you on a pilgrimage to mecca, also known as the TCM Film Festival.

I’m not a religious person but there’s one thing I hold sacred: movies. You can laugh and think I’m silly, but cinemas are my church.

If you think films are trivial, think again. Governments seek to silence filmmakers and ban or censor films. So somebody thinks they can be important.

Sure, there are plenty of bad movies and insignificant ones. But at their best movies are works of art. I have experienced enlightenment at the movies and even moments of transcendence. Movies have taught me about compassion and tolerance, and through film I have found a community of fellow believers. Those are the trappings of many religions.

For those who do see cinema as church, there’s no more devout congregation than those who consider themselves part of the TCM family. Once a year these cinema zealots make a pilgrimage to their mecca: the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood.

The 2016 festival took place April 28 through May 1. I thought it would be the perfect place to talk about film with people who love it the most at a place that turns filmgoing into a religious experience.

This is a place where, when a fire alarm went off in the theater just as a film was ending, members of the audience said, "I don’t see any fire. I’m staying here 'til the movie ends." Fortunately, it was just a false alarm.

For this podcast I speak with Charles Tabesh and Millie DeChirico of TCM as well as key members of the TCM Party social media community (Paula Guthat, Will McKinley, Joel Williams and Miguel Rodriguez).

The festival proved my point of cinemas being churches with the film, or more accurately, an event that delivered the kind of religious cinematic experience that I hope everyone can have at least once. The presentation was called "Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc." It was a screening of the 1928 silent film with live orchestra and chorus. It was something truly transcendent. Hearing that choir sing as the film opened gave me goose pimples.

Live music and voices in a theater brought a dimension to the film that went beyond anything gimmicky 3D can do. It filled the theater in a way that made it feel like high mass in a cathedral.

Not every screening at TCM Film Festival was as rewarding as this but the festival was exactly the right setting for a podcast on cinemas as churches.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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