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TCMFF 2021: We Have Dates - and "Venues"!

March 12, 2021

As previously announced, the 12th annual TCMFF will once again be a virtual celebration. What we didn’t have for a long time was more information, and well, now we have a little!


First of all, virtual TCMFF #2 will take place from May 6-9, 2021. That’s the biggest news. The second: As opposed to screening solely on TCM like last year – in addition to loads of social content – this year TCMFF adds a second “venue,” HBO Max. As the official press release notes, this will expand the festival’s reach and engage both hard core TCM fans and those who are newer to the classic film world who can access programming through HBO Max. I mean, it makes 100% sense from a business perspective as they are both under the Warner Media umbrella, and any initiative that introduces classics to new people is fine by me. As the new streaming service will also boast exclusive discussions, interviews, panels, presentations, new film introductions, and behind the scenes footage, I just may have to subscribe to HBO Max for a month to get the whole fest experience! Hey, that’s basically the price of one regular movie ticket right there, so I can’t really complain.


As the in-person fest usually takes place in Hollywood, a few miles from me, I’m used to operating on my own time zone. The virtual festivities, though, function on east coast time, which is good for the late-night movies, not so great for the early morning selections. That means this year’s opening night honoree, West Side Story, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, will take place at 5pm local time, right after work, which I appreciate, because I am not a night owl. To give it a true festival-like experience, the film will broadcast simultaneously on both TCM and HBO Max that night with new interviews with Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn.

West Side Story poster-min.jpg

Besides seeing my friends (in normal times) and basking in what feels like a never-ending stream of classic films for four straight days, I adore the special presentations TCMFF offers. And all the new-to-me discoveries they program. And the special guests. And the tributes. OK, I love it all. But my point is that TCM retained all those elements last year, and they’re doing so again this year.


So far, only a few concrete events have been made public besides the opening night picture. Rob Reiner and Mira Nair will introduce one of their own films along with a discussion, Danny Glover and Ali MacGraw’s careers will be celebrated, the L.A. Rebellion will be explored, and a diverse array of guest programmers will be introducing movies.

TCM Home Edition 2-min.jpg

It’s easy to see just from that sneak peek into programming that the TCMFF slate is already expanding into more modern territory than some classic film fans will be comfortable with. That said, it’s an inevitable direction given the inclusion of HBO Max in the festivities, a platform that contrasts substantially from TCM and has different objectives and goals. But honestly, the more the merrier, in my opinion. With over 80 films set to screen, I’m anticipating more content than I can physically take in over the course of four days. (Decisions are the HARDEST.) I’m sure I will find something to watch when I want to, and I expect others will feel the same. And of course, there’s also all the social festivities and endless ways the talented TCM team engages on their online platforms. So, I suspect there will be something for everyone – especially budding classic film fans who will hopefully be dipping their toes into this world for the first time through HBO Max.


Now it’s time to eagerly await the final schedule to compare options and plot my festival plan of attack, as I so fondly did for the in-person extravaganza. (And at that point, I’ll confirm whether I’ll bite the bullet on a month of HBO Max. Because: fomo.) TCM did a terrific job pivoting to virtual last year a mere month after the festival’s cancellation – seriously, I still can’t believe they put an online fest and social together in a month – and I can only imagine all the ways they’ll top that experience this time around with ample preparation time.


Less than two months to go until virtual showtime! Who else is excited?

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I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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