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TCM Classic Film Festival Home Edition Starts Thursday

 April 13, 2020 at 11:14 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The TCM classic film festival was scheduled for this coming weekend, but the order to shelter at home has forced all film festivals and theaters to close. But unlike most festivals, TCM classic film festival had a cable channel it could use to create an alternate experience. KPBS arts reporter Beth, our commando speaks with Charles Tabish UCFD on them and senior vice president in charge of programming at Turner classic movies about what to expect from the TCM classic film festival, home edition. Speaker 2: 00:29 Charles, the TCM film festival was scheduled for April and you guys had to make a very tough decision while you're waiting to find out what kind of mandates the government was going to make. So what was that process like of trying to figure out what to do with the festival? Speaker 3: 00:45 Things were sort of happening pretty quickly and even before we decided to cancel it, there was a sense that this might not happen. It was getting worse and worse. And I think there was a week when a lot of the people from Atlanta were, were in LA and we were meeting and talking about what to do. And I think it just came to a point where we decided we needed to cancel it and we knew that was the right decision. I mean, the idea of putting a lot of people, especially older people and crowded movie theaters or any getting them on airplanes to come and join us just didn't seem like a responsible thing to do. Speaker 2: 01:21 Now, unlike a lot of film festivals, which exists solely in a real venue with a physical space, you guys did have an option that a lot of festivals didn't have because you have the TCM channel. So how fast was that decision to kind of try and create something that was in the virtual realm? Speaker 3: 01:40 It was pretty fast. I, I can't remember exactly when it came up with the first thing a couple of people had said to me, Hey, why don't you do that? Instead of just doing the film festival this year, you know, in LA and Hollywood, why don't you do it on the channel? And the first thing I thought of was, well, there are some significant differences. One, the channel is still one movie at a time. The film festivals, five or six movies at a time to the rights to the movies are very different. You can't, the rights to what you have the rights to play live. It's different than what you have to play on, on television. And part of the festival experiences, the people doing the introductions and the pieces that are produced in the tributes and all that sort of stuff. So the first part of it was like, that's a great idea. Speaker 3: 02:25 I don't know how we're, how we can do that. And then you're talking about it and thinking about it, it was determined that, you know, the Hey, we'll instead of, instead of just trying to take this year is don't festival and transpose it onto television, which isn't really practical for the reasons I just mentioned. Why don't we take all the stuff that we've done over the last 10 years, put a lot of those movies on that have the rights to, that are, that were big important movies that played at the festival or that had, and you know, premiere of a new restoration or had a key guest or had some meaning meaningful. Um, place in the history of our 10 years, surround it with a lot of the things that we've created over those years in terms of interviews that we've taped with big stars or directors tribute pieces that have, were produced and then make it feel like something that is capturing the flavor of the tone of the festival in a way that, that we can only do by kind of taking from what we've done in the past. And so putting that together was, uh, you know what? I wouldn't say it was easy, but it, it fell into place. Decided to start with the, the very, some, some of the programming from the very first film festival Speaker 4: 03:35 did back in 2010 start kicking off with the first movie that was premiered there. I watched the restoration of the star is born when something like this happens to you, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you I didn't keep hoping it would happen. All the speeches that you've made up in your bedroom or in the bathtub, go out of your mind completely and you find that out of all the words in the world, just to stick in your mind. Thank you. Speaker 3: 04:08 And then follow that up with metropolis where we [inaudible] how'd the U S premiere of the new restoration with the footage that was discovered in Argentina and in an interview that we did with Louise Reiner. Um, so you know, some of the key things from that first year and we wanted to end it with some of the things that we're planning for this year. Some of the people that were paying tribute to, so Thursday night is sort of the first year, Sunday night is sort of devoted to this year and some of the programming that was planned. And then everything in between is just kind of trying to get that mix of, but what we've done historically, um, the right mix of big blockbuster movies, but also discoveries and interesting nuggets that people might've never seen. Or like I said, interviews with, with stars or, uh, you know, a mix of genres. Speaker 3: 04:55 And an Erez and, and try to give people a sense of what the programming is that you get when you go live. Get an idea of what it would be like so they could see it on television and hopefully hopefully we'll accomplish that. I know a lot of people behind the scenes are working really hard to put together at the last minute pieces that they've shot over the years and get, we're getting footage that, you know, is is rare that we can plug into, you know, in between some of the films so that it's not just a bunch of movies then it's a bunch of movies with a lot of context and, and texture. Speaker 2: 05:28 And for this online or home version of the festival, it's essentially 24 hours a day for those days, correct? Speaker 3: 05:34 That's right. Yeah. It's 24 hours. Exactly. So, and it starts that in, typically the festival starts on Thursday night and this does, and then it ends Sunday night as, as this does Speaker 2: 05:45 now, TCM has created this kind of social media community where there's a lot of people who do Twitter parties, watch their films on TCM. How might that help kind make this online festival a little more engaging and, and capture some of that flavor of the real festival? Speaker 3: 06:03 Yeah. Well that's a, that's a great point because one of the key things about the film festival is it gets people together. It's people from all over the country that come together and share their love of the movies and talk about it with each other. It's so great that now we can do that virtually. We can do it through social media and so I think our hope is that a lot of that that will happen online on various social media platforms where people will, will share and talk about the movies they like are the stars or the directors that they like and and kind of engage with each other virtually as opposed to live but still in a meaningful way. Speaker 2: 06:41 Now in terms of the films you look to to program for this, it seems like there's two ways you can go in terms of, you know, people are being quarantine, we're dealing with this coronavirus pandemic. You could go with films that kind of tap into the fears and anxieties that that creates or you can offer like escapism. Are you doing a little of both? Speaker 3: 07:00 I would say a little of both. And, and that was sort of in the back of my mind. Well putting it together, both of those things. And at the same time the priority was still just trying to capture a variety of, of great films and, and, and meaningful movies that played. So for example, we are playing the seventh seal on a Friday morning, which a plagues, you know, movie. But that's, that's not throughout in any, in any sense. And, and, and it was very conscious to put in feel good movies like seeing the rain. And Casablanca, Speaker 5: 07:32 you must remember is uh, QC. Still key is just a [inaudible] Speaker 3: 07:45 that are comforting that we know and love. But I also wanted to make sure we, we [inaudible] obscurities like Vitaphone shorts that we played at the film festival a few years ago or pre-code movies that were the people have gone to and loved and, and we want it to be a place a weekend where people not just sort of fall into the comfortable films, but also discover maybe things that they hadn't seen before. Like we'd like, like we hope for it at the live film festival. So it was really mainly about variety in variety in all sorts of ways. Speaker 2: 08:18 Now film often offers an escape for people and I was just doing a podcast about screwball comedies in the early thirties you know, being an escape for people going through the great depression. But you know, at that point in time people actually could congregate in a theater and have that community sense of other people laughing right next to them. How does kind of like, what film offer changes when kind of the whole way we're used to seeing films is, Speaker 3: 08:49 is her difference. No, you're right. And I look, the truth is it is a different experience seeing a film live with an audience and and feeding off of that energy of everybody there and I don't want to pretend like you're going to get that same experience no matter what on television or through TCM. I mean it's, it's different but, but when you have to be home or you want to be home, it's a great place I think to go in and enjoy a lot of these films and as we were sort of discussing a minute ago with social media, you're able to connect with people and even though it's not the same as why we're talking to them face to face [inaudible] there is a way that you do it in engage. I think that is then is special and is now part of the world we live in. Speaker 3: 09:37 I'm thankful for that. I think a lot of film fans are thankful for that. So it's not the exact same, it's something different, but it's still, it's still good and it still has a lot of the same qualities that you might get even if it is a little bit different or a lot different. Are there any parts of the program or any films in particular that you'd like to highlight for people? That's a good question because I, I, there are a lot, there's a lot that I really, I had fun kind of putting together or Reno remembering like metropolis when we, you know, the, the premiere at the film, the first film festival was such a special experience or when we premiered a hard day's night and you hear the first note of the, of the song when the movie starts audiences just so you know, enthralled from the very big Speaker 6: 10:17 yes. Speaker 4: 10:34 [inaudible] Speaker 3: 10:34 those are a couple of examples that just jumped to mind. Pre codes. Like I said, I think the movies that for the live audience, that sort of people I heard the most about where the three codes that we played. So red had woman is such a great, great film that, uh, played in film festival a few years ago. This year. We were planning to play for the first time at the film festival, baby face with the, with the edited footage put back in. So movies like that I think are going to be maybe discoveries. Oh, the Vitaphone shorts like I mentioned before. I mean they're fun and entertaining and people rarely see them and I'm super excited about that. Oh, one of the things in prime time on, on Friday night, Harold, Harold and Lillian, a Hollywood love story is a, it's a documentary that I think is, that's a, just a feel good fun, engaging such a well-made, a film by Daniel rein, which uh, I'm hopeful that a lot of people will sort of stumble upon to that and fall in love with it and the people in it. Speaker 3: 11:28 But then beyond that, you know, I mean, again, North by Northwest, awesome Casablanca and some like it hot and those sort of comfort films that a lot of us know and love. [inaudible] you can watch it over and over again. And you and I, and I love all of those. And so to me, uh, it's great to have to have those that you can, you don't have to. Discovery is in great and important and key, and it's throughout the weekend. There are also some times to just, okay, I'm comfortable and relaxed. I know the story and I just want to settle. Speaker 7: 12:00 I think there's plenty of them. That was KPBS odds reporter Beth echo Mandos speaking with Charles [inaudible], senior vice president in charge of programming at Turner classic movies parish.

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For a decade, TCM Classic Film Festival has been gathering the faithful in Hollywood for a celebration of movies. This year because of the coronavirus pandemic the festival has had to move programming to its cable channel.
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