Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE STRANGER IN USThe Evening Class Interview With Scott Boswell

Take a walk around midnight in the city / Young blood is hiding there somewhere / And if you're lookin' for somethin' to do / There's always somethin' happening there.—Ricki Lee Jones

Scott Boswell's first feature The Stranger In Us faces the street with considerable compassion, observing the youthful exploration of urban night life with generous honesty and tact.

Scott Boswell is production coordinator at San Francisco State University; a hybrid position where he teaches half-time, while lending production support for all the media needs of the film students the rest of the time. Having graduated with an MFA from San Francisco State in 2004, the shorts he produced while he was a graduate student were the first shorts he distributed, with some success. His film came to me in an interim cut by way of Frako Loden who felt I would appreciate its subtleties. She handed me her screener, which I watched, and which intrigued me enough to contact Boswell to see if he would be willing to discuss the project. We met up for coffee at Bean There in the Lower Haight.

* * *

Michael Guillén: You're in post-production for The Stranger In Us; working on color correction?

Scott Boswell: We are right now, yeah. In the Fall we decided to do some focus test screenings of the film with small groups of people who didn't know anything about the project and mostly didn't know me. The result pinpointed where people were finding the plot confusing. We decided there were maybe five or six issues we needed to address and so we've done that.

Guillén: Thus, the screener I've watched is not as the film stands today?

Boswell: What you've seen is before we did a re-cut, yeah.

Guillén: I was intrigued by your film's narrative structure, which—admittedly—I "got" more upon second viewing than the first. It took me a bit to understand that your main character Anthony was remembering earlier events while on a bus to find his friend Gavin. So I'm wondering now if that's been shifted in your recent edit?

Boswell: No, that basic structure remains intact. But we actually added chapter cards to give the film seasonal stamps to help distinguish that these are two different tracks in Anthony's life. There's actually three. There's the track of him on the bus, where he's having memories of these two people who have come into his life and who he's lost. There were lots of questions around that in the focus screenings. People typically by the end of the film pretty much understood the structure; but, the questions always landed in the first act.

Guillén: To be honest, I didn't fully catch the structure until Anthony showed up with a black eye….

Boswell: Which is easily an hour into the film.

Guillén: …and then I thought, "Oh. That's why I'm not following certain things here. The sequence is being shuffled." I liked that, however, because that's truer to how people actually remember things. People don't remember things in a linear fashion.

Boswell: That was the idea behind it. The trick with editing this project was finding the balance between people enjoying the puzzle while figuring out the structure and being annoyed by it.

Guillén: I was never "annoyed."

Boswell: I'm glad to know that.

Guillén: I've watched enough films to know there are many different ways to structure a narrative and none of them are essentially wrong; it's whatever the filmmaker wants to do. Let's back up a bit to the title: The Stranger In Us. Why that title?

Boswell: By and large the film is about self-discovery and the character—this actually comes up in his poetry—is exploring the relationship between himself and strangers, but also the discovery of what he doesn't know about himself. For example, most people who find themselves in a situation where their partner is not treating them well and is being abusive surprises them. We don't go out into the world on a daily basis thinking that that's going to happen to us, normally, right? This particular character comes from a sheltered world and enters this urban area to discover that he's doing things that he may never have thought that he would do, on the streets with Gavin, the homeless character, experimenting with drugs and those kinds of things.

Guillén: While I was watching this again this morning in preparation for our talk, I found myself considering that an alternate title to this film could have been Face the Street. Where your film spoke to me was in my own experience of growing up on the streets of San Francisco. I arrived here in 1975 at the age of 21 during that incredible Castro Florescence where it seemed we had all been summoned by some kind of homing beacon. Anthony's experience in your film was my experience and—I might venture—will be every young gay man's experience coming to a metropolitan center like San Francisco. In some ways your film was difficult for me to watch—i.e., remember—because, of course, I'm so much more mature now. [Laughs.] I'm more centered, more grounded, and it was difficult to relive that awkward and necessary pain that a young man has to experience in order to familiarize himself with the stranger within. I appreciated how this was expressed not only through Anthony's struggles to become a poet but in the poetic vision of the film itself. Are you a poet?

Boswell: No, not in the traditional sense.

Guillén: So this isn't a situation of a closet poet coming out as a filmmaker?

Boswell: No, but I'm drawn to it. I appreciate slam poetry, which the current generation of young people have embraced and—in many ways—they're expert at it. Before I worked at SF State, I ran a digital filmmaking program for teenagers in Oakland and, of course, I started to meet all the different worlds I ran in and all the different arts that they create. Slam poetry was one step away from what we were doing.

Slam poetry has become so popular and has received so much attention that now they feature slam poets on HBO and they're hosting national competitions. But myself, no, I'm not a poet. What you said earlier about coming to the city and sharing Anthony's experience I find particularly interesting because—since I've been working on this project—I've found a number of gay men who have told me that. There's a lot of mythology around San Francisco, especially for gay men. Hence, when we arrive here we don't quite know what to expect but we're driven by some sort of optimism.

Quite a few people have told me that they relate to Anthony's experience of feeling alien in the city at first and having trouble making connections with people while discovering this more urban, gritty street life. I love that. For me, I didn't quite know what to expect from the Castro but somehow it was disappointing.

Guillén: When did you arrive in San Francisco?

Boswell: I arrived here in 1997.

Guillén: Ah, so what you entered was the commodified Castro?

Boswell: I did! I experienced a commodified, more gentrified Castro and—at least on the surface—what I was seeing were more materialistic values and things that weren't interesting to me. I came looking for an alternative and, instead, felt alien in this enormous gay world. But I also came to discover that there were lots of us like that.

Guillén: Definitely. I have often said that the meanest men I have ever met were gay men in the Castro. Which was quite a shock to me when I arrived in San Francisco from the conservative Mormon belt of southern Idaho. I came expecting brotherhood and found brutal hierarchies of sexism and—much to my alarm—racism.

Which leads me to one of the distressing topics in Strangers In Us: that of partner abuse, a subject that's not usually addressed in gay narratives. The self-loathing that capsizes relationships among gay men was skillfully handled in your film. Likewise, inversely, the genuine relationship Anthony had with Gavin the street kid pulled me right in for feeling so resoundingly honest. Truthfully, I learned to know myself as a young man by hanging on the streets. Anthony's desultory late night wanderings and how he learns to navigate the city—down to the broken glass and shit on the sidewalk—struck me as an urban poetic aesthetic of a young man's coming into being. I have to ask then: where did this story come from?

Boswell: The story is autobiographical and very much reflective of my experience coming to this city. Of course, whenever you work on a piece of fiction it becomes more and more fictionalized; but, the lead characters are based on people that I knew and experienced. I was largely trying to capture that experience, which is unique to people like yourself and I who have come from smaller, more conservative regions….

Guillén: Where are you from?

Boswell: I'm from central Illinois, a town called Normal. I literally grew up tasseling corn in the summertime. Normal was very much in the Midwestern Bible Belt. I moved here sight unseen. I just decided to pick up and go West. I don't regret it for a minute; but, I will say that you find yourself in this entirely new world and it's exciting and scary and makes you question everything about yourself. Ultimately, you either find your place in it or you don't.

In terms of domestic violence between gay men, you're right, I haven't seen that portrayed much in "gay" movies, or between same-sex couples at least. But it's always been of interest to me on a political level as well as a personal level and that's one of the reasons that I wanted to explore it. I mean, I've seen violence portrayed between gay men such as in Brokeback Mountain where I felt they were effectively trying to beat out the homophobia, that they were both frightened for being attracted to another male, but that violence was coming from somewhere else. I was more interested in the kinds of violence integral to a relationship, whether it's between two men, two women, or a man and a woman. I feel this is a big issue in the society at large; but, I haven't seen it dealt with a lot in the gay world.

Guillén: In some ways, it's not cool timing as it seems most gay films these days are concentrating on positive images. That's okay in and of itself, although I believe it delimits the potential of queer cinema, which—unfortunately—appears to have collapsed into rom-com fantasies that I don't feel particularly further queer sensibility, other than to offer comfort through fantasies of commodification. Partner abuse isn't a comfortable subject to look at, but, it's a real one, and I commend your film for tackling the theme, and the performances of your actors for rendering it real. Can you speak to me about your three main actors who play Anthony, Gavin and Steven? Are they San Franciscan actors?

Boswell: They were when we shot the film. Let me start by saying that my initial approach to this project was completely different. I was wanting to do something a little more experimental. And if I may back up just a little? I've always been fascinated with the Polk Street neighborhood as an older, grittier, alternative to the Castro, especially the Polk Street that I knew in the late '90s. Now Polk Street's become more gentrified itself; but I was fascinated with the kinds of bars you'd find there and the diversity of people, the rent boys on the street, the tranny hookers and all of that had some sort of appeal to me. I was thinking of doing something more like a documentary set in the Polk Street area but it would be a hybrid narrative where I would bring in actors into the scenario and film it like a documentary to see what we could make. Then as I worked on it, the script became more fleshed out and traditional, and I posted earlier than usual for actors before I'd actually finished the script, because I was still thinking of a more experimental approach. I wanted there to be a lot of improv and stuff that had to be worked out before the camera rather than in pre-production.

One of the first people to respond was Raphael Barker, who appeared as Rob in Shortbus (2006). This threw me because I wasn't expecting to hear from someone who had some props. I thought, "Okay, well, let's meet." So we had coffee, hit it off immediately, and in some ways he inspired me to move forward with the project as it is.

Guillén: Let me be clear about this, when Raphael contacted you there was no finished script? How did he know what he was auditioning for? Had you posted a general story outline?

Boswell: Yeah. On the call for actors, I tried to pitch it in the way that I felt passionate about it. That's what drew him. He actually said something about how he doesn't normally respond to these but this sounded like an interesting project and he wanted to find out more about it. When I saw Shortbus in the theater, Raphael genuinely impressed me in that movie. He was one of my favorite actors in that film. Out of all the actors in that film, he's the one I would have wanted to contact me. So I was very excited that he was interested. When we met, I tried to explain to him what I was trying to do with the project and he got it. He was on board for it. There was another good eight months before we actually went into production. I did audition Raphael because I needed to know he could do it. He genuinely gave the best audition, which is apparent in his performance in the film.

Adam Perez, who plays Gavin, was one of maybe forty auditions for that role. We just kept looking at actor after actor. Ultimately, he proved to be bringing to the role what we wanted. We made him audition three times because we wanted to see that he could handle it. Raphael was kind enough to come in and do a chemistry test with him. They worked together very well, which I was excited about.

Scott Cox, who plays Steven, is a local stage actor who, incidentally, is the sweetest guy on the planet. If you've gone to plays locally, you've probably caught him at some point. I knew him because of a short I had worked on several years ago. We had been trying to find someone who could handle the difficult role of Steven. Fully qualified actors were having trouble bringing something to the role that we were looking for and I just suddenly remembered Scott and having worked with him a number of years earlier, so I contacted him and asked him, "Would you like to audition?" He was excited about it. And then it all worked out.

So that's how we came to working with those three and all three of them were such a pleasure to work with—and thank God!—because you hear nightmare stories sometimes.

Guillén: How much did they lend to the development of the script? Did you do a lot of improvisation with them to shape dialogue?

Boswell: We did. A fair amount. The script is 100 pages; but, the way it reads, there are paragraphs that say: "Now we're going to improv", with descriptions of what should happen for the set-up and I let them go where they wanted with it. I wanted to capture a naturalistic feel to the film and retain some sense of the original documentary impulse. Personally, it's also the kind of acting I enjoy. The truth is that 85% of the script was written but the actors were given liberty to adlib and then there were moments when we risked improvisation. We did spend quite a bit of time in auditions as well with improv to see if people could handle it. I have to say that sometimes the actors provided gold and sometimes they didn't; but, ultimately, I got what I needed. All of them brought moments to the script that I didn't compose myself. All of them also brought moments that were absolutely off base—which is what happens in improv—and that's when as a director you need to step in and bring it back to where it needs to be.

Guillén: Who are you imagining to be the audience for this film?

Boswell: That's an excellent question. I decided when I made this film that, first of all, I was just going to do it. That's not because I don't care about audience. But I wanted to make a feature for a long time and I woke up a couple of years ago and realized, "You can! Maybe you go a little bit into debt. But do you choose to buy a car or choose to make a low-budget feature film?" Once I had that thought, nothing was going to stop me. I'm a big believer in quality work and I believe that—if work is done well—it will find an audience. I don't think The Stranger In Us will appeal to all gay men. I do hope it plays in LGBT festivals. I hope it plays in international festivals too. We haven't aggressively started the distribution process yet. I suspect the audience will be somewhat diverse. We have shown it to maybe 100 people now and we've received some positive reactions from a diverse group of people and so The Stranger In Us needs to appeal to a certain aesthetic taste, to people who can appreciate the kind of film that we've shot and made. Perhaps those are film festival goers? Maybe there's an LGBT market for it? In general, audiences who can appreciate dramatic character-driven work. It's definitely in the indie vein so I imagine it would have to be something of a film festival audience.

Guillén: Though the film allows access in several different ways. For example, I've approached it by way of memory because, of course, the film reminds me of my own youth and my transformation from rural to urban. In fact, because it faces the street so honestly, I was wondering how its urbanity will speak to audiences outside an urban area? I have to reiterate that the depiction of Gavin is one of the most thrillingly authentic portraits of queer street youth I've ever seen. It was the character of Gavin, and Adam Perez's pitch-perfect performance, that enthused me about wanting to talk to you about this project. Basically I just wanted to tell you exactly that. Gavin, as a character, is such a grounded, real person. Also the bartender who Anthony solicits for help in determining Gavin's whereabouts is someone I feel I already know. And, of course, I'm very intrigued by the transgender character Sonja who serves a wise and poetic function in the film, almost like a member of a Greek chorus. What were you trying to say through her character?

Boswell: It's funny you mention Sonja. She comes up a lot in conversation, which I enjoy. My initial idea—and the way it's written in the script—is that she is another one of those lovely characters that you meet in the Tenderloin. What I love about the Tenderloin is all the crazy—and I mean that lovingly—people that you encounter. I don't think Sonja's crazy at all. I never wanted her to be a joke or a caricature or anything like that. I wanted her to be lovely. Joshua Grannell actually helped me find her. Her name is
Veronica Klaus. She's a well-established local cabaret singer. I approached her and she agreed to do it and the song she sings in the film is her song. There's a studio version of her song that we'll probably incorporate into the credits in the final cut.

Sonja is a character who's a bit mystical in that she observes what's going on around her and she sees that Anthony's in pain. She offers whatever comfort she can, even by just crossing paths with him on the street. In retrospect, I might have included her more, largely because I love Veronica's performance. Of course, going into it you don't always know what you're going to get; but, in this post phase, I have often thought that I would have put her in more often.

Guillén: That's actually a question I was going to raise. Being that this is your first feature, a project that you have strived for quite a long time, and now that it's moreorless done, would you have done anything differently? What is the main thing you've learned from your first feature?

Boswell: I've learned a lot. I've learned that you must always be extremely focused and mindful of your vision for the project. If you lose sight of that, scenes aren't going to work. Only you, as the director, carries that. Meaning that it's not necessarily the responsibility of the actor. They're not the director. You might find that they tripped, especially when you're allowing improv. For instance, Raphael loves to be funny.

Guillén: He does have some cute bits he delights in.

Boswell: And thank God because it brings layers to the character.

Guillén: His humor reveals his vulnerability.

Boswell: Exactly. But if it were to drift too far in that direction, the tone of the film would be lost. So there were times that I had to pull him back. The only thing I would do differently is that I imagined this to be a piece where all of the puzzle would fall into place more clearly than it seems to. That's one of the reasons we've done some additions and re-cutting to set up more clues to guide the audience into what they're seeing. I don't like films that hit you over the head with structure and its meaning and things like that, but I failed to realize as the writer of this piece just how obtuse it is for many viewers. I will be more mindful of that in the future.

Guillén: "Obtuse" only in the sense that, I suspect, people don't really want to know themselves very well and are, thus, reluctant to do their share of the work. As you said earlier, a lot of young gay people come to the city with preconceived notions of what life is going to be like for them once they arrive here. They anticipate a fullness of experience that real life often delivers fractured. You can become hardened because of that, jaded, which was always something I was most fearful of as a young man: I didn't want to become a jaded queen.

Boswell: [Laughs.] Which, fortunately, you didn't.

Guillén: [Knocking on the table.] Fortunately, I didn't. But, even if you don't become a jaded queen, you still hazard becoming a macho mannerist hiding behind enacted virilities. Rather than concerning yourself with the imagined failure of your narrative, I would focus on how it successfully depicts a young man who doesn't even really know what he can have or become yet—though he might have a sense of what he wants—yet, by film's end, even though it's left open-ended and is not neatly tied up, you sense that Anthony is ready for the challenge of living an authentic life. It's a subtle optimism: every young person can answer the call to lead an authentic life. For gay people, especially, it's problematic because there are all that many more barriers in the way of leading an authentic life, not the least being their own preconceptions and fantasies.

Boswell: I agree. That has been some of my own frustration with San Francisco. I don't mean to bash the Castro; but….

Guillén: [Laughs.] Oh go ahead.

Boswell: The Castro symbolizes….

Guillén: All that went wrong!

Boswell: When I first moved here, the apartment that I found to live in—and you know how competitive and difficult it is to find housing—was in the Castro, which shocked me. I never expected that to happen as someone coming from the Midwest, and everyone knowing what the Castro is, and so on and so forth. To me the Castro symbolizes the inauthenticity that you're describing. I've always resisted it. Of course, I love the Castro Theatre and I love the sense that there's this mythological community that's always festive and safe—even though it's not always—but, my attitude has largely been to resist falling into that and, as cliché as it sounds, to not become that, to remain true to myself. That's one of the reasons I moved out of the Castro. And you may notice in the film that Anthony never goes to the Castro. He's in San Francisco but he never goes there.

Guillén: I did notice that. I noticed that the film focuses on the Civic Center, the Tenderloin and Polk Street.

Boswell: That's why. Because of what the Castro symbolizes for me. I completely agree with you. I think it's reflective of what I do want to say about this city.

Guillén: As a film journalist who watches lots of movies and monitors the fantasies that basically inform movies, I often consider which fantasies (i.e., movies) can actually help people lead an authentic life and which will throw them off the track. One of my main critiques of queer cinema is that I often feel that the stories that are being told/sold are inauthentic narratives.

Boswell: I agree.

Guillén: These are not stories that are going to help anybody achieve anything, except perhaps a momentary illusion of normalcy, which itself is fraught with error. Returning to your choice of locations, and your decision to monitor Anthony's nocturnal wanderings, are you familiar with the work of João Pedro Rodrigues?

Boswell: No.

Guillén: His debut feature was O Fantasma, and he followed that up with Odete, and most recently with To Die Like A Man. One of the aspects I most enjoy about João's work—and I've talked to him about this—is that he uses the night as his mise-èn-scene. Night becomes the realm or the domain within which his characters discover themselves. Night is their mirror. Can you speak to what night means for you in The Stranger In Us?

Boswell: First of all, I can't deny that it's based largely on real experiences. In that sense, it's purely just trying to capture something I experienced myself. There was … is a Gavin and he was someone that I used to only see at night and run into in the neighborhood, and he was someone with whom I developed a friendship when I didn't feel that I had a lot of other close relationships here, and had gone through and just come out of a difficult relationship. But I love the visual symbol of being in the dark. I also love the beauty of Polk Street at night because it's so colorful and florescent and for me it sets up what is simultaneously appealing and scary about it. Because there are all these things going on around, it's possible that you could get hurt; it's possible that you could get lost; but, it's also erotic and beautiful and there are other people out there just as lost and lonely as you are. In terms of just a place on the planet where different people meet, I found the Polk Street region a fascinating place to explore and it seems to me that happens most at night.

Guillén: I've frequently considered that what was so different in the '70s was the proportion between private and public space. So much of what was public space has become privatized since then, such that it's only at night these areas are reclaimed as public. I especially took note of this in the scene in The Stranger In Us where Anthony meets Sonja. This was filmed outside the public library?

Boswell: It's actually the Asian Art Museum, but the Civic Center area.

Guillén: I was fascinated by this because the Civic Center is truly a private sector of art and cultural institutions, a government sector with city and state institutions, and yet at night it's being reclaimed as a terrain of self-discovery for an alternative culture.

Boswell: The shot where Anthony sees Gavin for the first time is in front of City Hall.

Guillén: How did you decide where you wanted to set your film? You've talked a little bit about Polk Street already. Did you have any issues filming in these locations?

Boswell: No. For the most part we had permits.

Guillén: So you weren't shooting guerilla?

Boswell: We didn't do it all guerilla, though we did do a bit when we shot a few hours past what we were permitted for. But no one asked. It's funny, we shot for days and for hours and hours on Polk Street, in the alleys around Polk Street, and the police never once asked. Which, of course, if we hadn't secured the permits, they would have asked every time we went out there. I don't know if they had bigger fish to fry; but, we chose the locations largely for aesthetic reasons and lighting reasons. We didn't set up any outside lights. We scouted very carefully beforehand and spent a lot of time walking around and driving around that area, looking for places where light always falls at night, either from street lamps or any other artificial lights set up in the area. Then we set all of our scenes beneath those lights because it's very easy to walk just a few feet away and fall into darkness in a way that wouldn't work for the visuals. We based our locations largely on the light that we could find. Some of the scenes turned out beautiful in ways that look almost lit. If you look carefully, there's light on the shoulder, on the head, on the face.

Guillén: Which lends to its naturalistic look. It is real, without being murky as can often be the case. You've billed your film as cinema vérité, though your camera is more controlled and composed than what I would associate with cinema vérité. To wrap up here, though you're still in post-production, what is your strategy for getting the film out there once the film is finished?

Boswell: The obvious first step would be to submit to film festivals. I always find this to be a tricky step in my work because I don't just want to be a gay filmmaker; but, I get that I'm dealing primarily with gay characters and themes. I always hope that my films will screen in international film festivals as well as the LGBT festivals, and my shorts have, so hopefully this one will as well.

Guillén: Do you strategize that way? Do you aim for a general audience first and then fall back on the sure LGBT audience?

Boswell: Typically, I've done them both simultaneously and just see what happens. But there are a couple of other possible trajectories. I, ultimately, would love some DVD distribution. I obviously want it to be shown as much as it can and my hope is to interest some of the distributors who would distribute a movie like this. My producer
Cheryl Valenzuela has been largely looking into these possibilities. Also, independent filmmakers are dealing with the fact that there's a lot more media being produced because it's cheaper to produce now—which is why I could make this film—but, when you hear the number of submissions that festivals are getting now, it's staggering. So how does your film get attention? There's a movement of DIY filmmakers creating distribution strategies that work for them and we're just starting to look into that to try to create our own buzz around the project. This is all new territory for me so it's simultaneously mysterious and exciting and worthy of exploration in the coming months. We're in the grey zone of thinking, "Who's going to show this? And when?" That whole international vs. LGBT issue is tricky, because you don't want to turn anyone down but you also don't want to undersell.

Cross-published on

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Last November when it was first announced that Turner Classic Movies (TCM), the authority in classic film, would be staging their first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival (April 22-25, 2010) in the heart of Hollywood, I was beside myself. Like thousands of others, the only reason I subscribe to cable TV is to watch films on TCM without commercial interruption. I don't think it would be a stretch to say that TCM has revolutionized how movie-lovers watch television. Over the years, I've developed a fine working relationship with TCM and am delighted to announce that I've been accredited for the festival and will be reporting from Hollywood!

The TCM Classic Film Festival will be a landmark celebration of the history of Hollywood and its movies, presented in a way that only TCM can, with major events, celebrity appearances and screenings of classic movies. In a word: spectacular! The four-day festival will also provide movie fans a rare opportunity to experience some of cinema's greatest works as they were meant to be seen—on the big screen. All screenings—more than 50 in all—will include special introductions to provide context about each film. Among the numerous talents slated to attend and talk about their work are Mel Brooks, Luise Rainer, Ernest Borgnine, Jerry Lewis, Eva Marie Saint, Tony Curtis, Jon Voight, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Martin Landau, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, Buck Henry, Eli Wallach, Peter Bogdanovich, Stanley Donen, Norman Lloyd, Nancy Olson, Illeana Douglas, Susan Kohner, Juanita Moore, Darryl Hickman, Curtis Hanson, Richard Rush and special effects artist Douglas Trumbull, among many more.

Robert Osborne, TCM's primetime host, will be the official host of the festival. "Classic movies are something that link the past to the present and form a vital part of our culture," Osborne has remarked. "This new festival will give those who love movies a way to connect with each other. It is a first-of-its-kind chance for TCM fans to experience the network in-person, meet others with the same interests and immerse themselves in a wide array of classic films." In addition, TCM weekend-daytime host Ben Mankiewicz will take part in introducing films during the festival.

Hollywood and its history will be celebrated throughout the TCM Classic Film Festival. In addition to screening classic films, from newly restored masterpieces to silent classics and undiscovered gems, the festival will tell the story of Hollywood through films, guests and special events throughout the weekend.

Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood
Inspired by the book Vanity Fair's Tales of Hollywood: Rebels, Reds, and Graduates and the Wild Stories Behind the Making of 13 Iconic Films, which features fascinating behind-the-scenes stories from some of Hollywood's greatest films, the TCM Classic Film Festival is partnering with Vanity Fair to present a special collection of movies and panel discussions featuring writers from the magazine and people associated with the films. The book, published by Penguin Books, was edited by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter.

The Producers (1968)—Featuring a discussion with screenwriter / director Mel Brooks. Legendary funnyman Mel Brooks discusses this hilarious comedy, which earned him a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The story follows a pair of Broadway producers who figure out they can make more money by producing a flop. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder star. In addition to this special screening of The Producers, TCM will partner with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce as they honor Brooks with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which marks its 50th anniversary this year.

"Mel Brooks is one of the funniest men in the world today, and he has made life much happier for all of us, thanks to The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and so many of his other movie comedies," said Robert Osborne. "We're very pleased he's going to join us at the TCM Classic Film Festival and look forward to toasting him in celebration of his well-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame."

The Graduate (1967)—Featuring a discussion with writer and actor Buck Henry. Screenwriter and co-star Buck Henry will be on-hand to discuss the making of Mike Nichols' generation-defining film. The movie follows a young college graduate (Dustin Hoffman) as he tries to make his way in the world, including being seduced by an older woman (Anne Bancroft) and falling in love with her daughter (Katharine Ross). Simon & Garfunkel's song score was recently named by TCM as one of the 15 Most Influential Soundtracks of all time.

Midnight Cowboy (1969)—Featuring a discussion with actor Jon Voight. Jon Voight discusses this ground-breaking movie that rattled Hollywood with its no-holds-barred style. He gives a strong performance as a wide-eyed Texas boy who heads to New York City to become a gigolo. Dustin Hoffman is the seedy Ratso Rizzo who becomes his friend. This striking John Schlesinger film earned Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)—Featuring a discussion with actor Tony Curtis. Tony Curtis discusses his role as a sleazy press agent who will do anything to win the favor of a powerful columnist, played by Burt Lancaster. This beautifully shot film features cinematography by James Wong Howe and an extraordinary jazz score by Elmer Bernstein.

Cleopatra (1963)—Featuring a discussion with actor Martin Landau and Tom Mankiewicz, son of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Martin Landau discusses his role as Rufio, and Tom Mankiewicz talks about his father's work as director on this lavish production that, at the time, was the biggest spectacle Hollywood had ever produced. Elizabeth Taylor plays the title role, while Richard Burton plays Mark Antony, and Rex Harrison plays Julius Caesar. This film won Oscars for its cinematography, art direction-set decoration, costumes and visual effects.

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)—Featuring a discussion with filmmaker and Orson Welles expert Peter Bogdanovich. Peter Bogdanovich provides his insight into one of the most notorious examples of a studio taking over a director's film. Based on Booth Tarkington's novel, this remarkable drama follows the story of a family that seems stuck in time. The movie was brutally trimmed and reshot after the studio was unhappy with Welles' work, but the result is still a marvel. Sterling performances from Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter and the incredible Agnes Moorehead are a highlight.

Film Foundation Presentations
In addition, the TCM Classic Film Festival will honor the nation's pre-eminent organization devoted to preserving Hollywood's legacy, The Film Foundation, which will be celebrating its 20th year of preserving and restoring classic films. Several films newly restored by The Film Foundation will be showcased at the festival. Founded in 1990 by Martin Scorsese and a distinguished group of fellow filmmakers, the Film Foundation is dedicated to protecting motion pictures and the rights of the artists who create them, educating the public about the importance of film preservation, and raising the necessary funds to save the endangered cinematic treasures.

Wild River (1960)—Film Foundation screening of a newly restored print introduced by Curtis Hanson. Curtis Hanson, a member of the Board of Directors for The Film Foundation, will present this Elia Kazan drama starring Montgomery Clift and Lee Remick. The evocative, Depression-era story follows Clift as a Tennessee Valley Authority worker trying to convince landowner Jo Van Fleet to give up her property. This film marked the film debut of Bruce Dern.

Leave Her to Heaven (1945)—Followed by a Q&A with Darryl Hickman. Darryl Hickman, who was only 14 when this movie was made, will introduce the film and engage in a Q&A session following the screening. The romantic melodrama stars Gene Tierney as a woman who seems to love men to death. Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and Vincent Price co-star. Leon Shamroy's breathtaking color cinematography earned an Oscar.

Sunnyside Up (1929)—World premiere of The Museum of Modern Art restoration, preserved with support from The Film Foundation and the Franco American Cultural Fund. This pre-Code musical stars one of the most popular screen teams of early Hollywood—Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell—in their first sound film together. The result is a wildly entertaining, completely charming film, with some of the most spectacular musical numbers ever filmed. Hot off of becoming the first-ever Best Actress Oscar winner, Gaynor plays a young tenement girl who falls in love with the rich Farrell. The songs include the title tune, "If I Had a Talking Picture of You," "I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All?" and "Turn on the Heat," the latter featuring a truly eye-popping production number.

The Big Trail (1930)—Screening of the restoration by The Museum of Modern Art, preserved with support from the Bartos Preservation Fund and The Film Foundation. Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, this Raoul Walsh western about early pioneers stars John Wayne in his first lead role. The film was shot in Grandeur, a very early widescreen process. In addition to the sweeping vistas captured by Lucien Andriot and Arthur Edeson's stunning cinematography, the film broke ground in the use of natural sound.

Hollywood on Hollywood
Hollywood has put its own spin on the movie industry over the years, from escapist musicals to downbeat film noirs. Because there has been no greater subject for Hollywood to explore than Hollywood itself, the festival will highlight some of the best films from this category.

Singin' in the Rain (1952)—Introduced by Stanley Donen. Stanley Donen will introduce this sparkling film that has been called Hollywood's greatest musical ever. He directed the film with Gene Kelly, who plays a silent film star making the transition to sound. Unfortunately, the star's frequent leading lady, played hilariously by Jean Hagen, has a grating voice that could cause their latest film to flop. In steps Debbie Reynolds, a young chorus girl who is forced to dub her voice for Hagen's. Donald O'Connor also stars in this wonderful musical comedy that features songs from the Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown catalogue.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)—Introduced by Nancy Olson and film historian Cari Beauchamp. Billy Wilder turned his sarcastic wit on Hollywood with this comic drama about a has-been movie star who falls in love with the man she hopes is writing her comeback. Gloria Swanson gives the performance of a lifetime as the faded movie star, with William Holden as her screenwriter/love, Erich von Stroheim as the mysterious butler Max and Nancy Olson as the budding screenwriter involved with Holden.

The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)—Introduced by Cheryl Crane, daughter of Lana Turner. Kirk Douglas plays a powerful producer who needs help from some of his previous collaborators, but it seems few are willing to work with him anymore. Lana Turner and Dick Powell co-star in this Vincente Minnelli film that earned five Oscars, including a Best Supporting Actress trophy for Gloria Grahame and a Best Screenplay win for Charles Schnee.

In a Lonely Place (1950)—Introduced by director Curtis Hanson. Curtis Hanson, who used this film to help his actors prepare for their roles in his 1997 noir thriller L.A. Confidential, frequently cites director Nicholas Ray for having a profound impact on his style. In this raw and cynical film, Humphrey Bogart stars as self-destructive screenwriter trying to clear his name of a murder rap while also engaging in an affair with a young actress, played by Gloria Grahame.

The Stunt Man (1980)—Followed by a Q&A with director Richard Rush. This unique black comedy stars Peter O'Toole as a dictatorial director and Steve Railsback as a fugitive hired to work as a stunt man. Barbara Hershey co-stars in this film directed by Richard Rush and featuring an appropriate, intentionally cheesy score by Dominic Frontiere.

The Hustons: A Hollywood Dynasty
Actress-director-producer Anjelica Huston and actor-director Danny Huston will take part in this special tribute to the Huston clan, including their father, director John Huston; their grandfather, actor Walter Huston; and their brother, screenwriter Tony Huston. The program will include special screenings of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), as well as a third film to be announced later.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)—Introduced by Anjelica Huston and Danny Huston. Director and screenwriter John Huston took home two Academy Awards for this intense drama starring Humphrey Bogart, Oscar-winner Walter Huston and Tim Holt. The film, based on a tale by B. Traven, follows an unlikely trio of prospectors driven by unbridled greed.

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)—Including post-screening Q&A with Anjelica Huston and Martin Landau. Woody Allen's serio-comic look at the guilty conscience stars Martin Landau as a successful eye doctor who becomes heavily involved with a flight attendant, played by Anjelica Huston. The extraordinary cast includes Allen, Alan Alda, Mia Farrow, Claire Bloom, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach and Joanna Gleason.

Additional Special Screenings
Throughout the TCM Classic Film Festival, special individual screenings will take place, including several beautifully restored films, rare gems and celebrity introductions.

Opening Night: A Star is Born (1954)—World premiere of new restoration. The premiere of George Cukor's A Star is Born will serve as the opening night event for the TCM Classic Film Festival. This is the first major restoration of A Star is Born since 1983. TCM will screen a version that was digitally restored by scanning original negatives. The result is much better picture quality of all elements of the 1983 restoration, with deeper and richer color than ever before. A Star is Born, which earned Oscar nominations for Judy Garland and James Mason, is part of the festival's overall theme as a celebration of Hollywood history.

The Good Earth (1937)—Introduced by Luise Rainer. Austrian-born actress Luise Rainer, who recently turned 100, will appear to introduce this outstanding drama. She earned the second of two Oscars for her extraordinary performance as a Chinese woman whose life and family are nearly destroyed by greed. Paul Muni is equally powerful as her loving husband in this adaptation of Pearl S. Buck's classic novel. Karl Freund's outstanding cinematography also earned an Oscar.

Jubal (1956)—North American premiere of restored print, followed by a Q&A with Ernest Borgnine. Ernest Borgnine will introduce this intriguing western by Delmer Daves. The film puts the story of Shakespeare's Othello in the saddle. Borgnine stars as a rancher who seeks marriage advice from a cowhand (Glenn Ford), only to be led into a jealous rage through the schemes of a villain (Rod Steiger). Extraordinary scenery and an intense, intelligent script highlight this underrated drama. The new 35mm digitally corrected negative for this film reproduces the original Cinemascope aspect ratio for the first time since the movie's initial release. The original stereo soundtrack has also been restored.

The King of Comedy (1983)—Followed by a Q&A with Jerry Lewis. Martin Scorsese's acerbic comedy stars Jerry Lewis as television's top host and Robert De Niro as the man determined to get on his show. Diahnne Abbot, Sandra Bernhard, Shelley Hack, Tony Randall and Ed Herlihy co-star.

North by Northwest (1959)—Introduced by Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau. Oscar and Emmy winner Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront) will be on hand for this presentation of one of Alfred Hitchcock's biggest and most enduring hits. Cary Grant plays an everyman mistaken as a double agent and chased across the country by people on both sides of the law. Saint plays the woman unwittingly roped into helping him. Martin Landau, who will also introduce the film, puts a unique spin on his henchman character. The film's memorable scenes include a cropduster sequence and a harrowing chase across the faces of Mount Rushmore. The action is highlighted by composer Bernard Herrmann's pulsating ostinatos.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)—Introduced by Eli Wallach. Longtime character actor Eli Wallach, who at the age of 94 can currently be seen in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer (2010), comes to the TCM Classic Film Festival to introduce this exciting spaghetti western. Sergio Leone's third film in his Dollars trilogy (following 1964's Fistful of Dollars and 1966's For a Few Dollars More) features Clint Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach as three gunmen hunting for a Confederate government treasure chest. Contributing to the film's tremendous success is composer Ennio Morricone's theme, one of the most recognizable in movie history.

Saboteur (1942)—Followed by a Q&A with Norman Lloyd. Alfred Hitchcock's wartime thriller stars Robert Cummings as a fugitive munitions worker falsely accused of sabotage. Priscilla Lane co-stars as the woman who helps him clear his name, and Norman Lloyd provides the perfect touch as the villainous Fry. The climax atop the Statue of Liberty is one of Hitchcock's most memorable sequences.

Imitation of Life (1959)—Featuring a discussion with Oscar-nominated stars, Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner. Douglas Sirk's racially charged 1959 melodrama stars Lana Turner in the Fannie Hurst story as an actress, with Juanita Moore as the woman who works for her over the years. Sandra Dee, Dan O'Herlihy and Robert Alda co-star, along with Kohner as Moore's troubled daughter who passes for white.

A Woman's Face (1941)—Introduced by Casey LaLonde, Joan Crawford's grandson, and Illeana Douglas, Melvyn Douglas' granddaughter. Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas star in this gripping drama, which rarely receives a theatrical screening. Crawford plays a scarred woman whose life is changed when she undergoes plastic surgery. Douglas stars as the doctor who helps her. Conrad Veidt is the schemer who uses her for his own selfish aims. George Cukor directed this exciting remake of a 1938 Swedish film that starred Ingrid Bergman.

Harold Lloyd in An Eastern Westerner (1920) and Safety Last (1923)—Featuring music composed and conducted by Robert Israel; introduced by Leonard Maltin and Suzanne Lloyd, Harold Lloyd's granddaughter. TCM presents two silent Harold Lloyd classics, beginning with the Hal Roach-directed An Eastern Westerner, a two-reel short in which Lloyd plays a boy from the East Coast who is sent to the Wild West by his father. Then comes one of Lloyd's funniest feature films, Safety Last, in which Lloyd plays a department store clerk whose idea for a contest backfires. Safety Last features Lloyd perilously dangling from a clock at the top of a tall building.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)—Featuring a discussion with visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull. TCM will present the 70mm road show version of Stanley Kubrick's landmark film about a series of mysterious monoliths leading humanity to a new era. Oscar-winning visual effects artist Douglas Trumbull will be on-hand to discuss what it took to help bring Kubrick's vision to the screen.

Carmen Jones (1954)—Newly restored version introduced by author Donald Bogle. Otto Preminger directed this film version of Oscar Hammerstein II's adaptation of Bizet's opera Carmen. Dorothy Dandridge stars in the title role. Harry Belafonte and Pearl Bailey co-star. Hammerstein wrote English lyrics and set them to the popular tunes from Bizet's opera. Donald Bogle, author of Dorothy Dandridge: A Biography, will introduce the film.

Metropolis (1927)—North American premiere of new restoration, including lost footage. TCM's screening of Fritz Lang's 1927 science-fiction silent masterpiece Metropolis will mark the first presentation of the new restoration of the film in North America. Due to the sensational 2008 discovery of a 16mm negative in Buenos Aires and its current restoration, Metropolis can now be shown with 30 minutes of additional footage that has been unseen since the 1927 Berlin premiere. This 147-minute version now stands as the authoritative version of the film, according to the Murnau Foundation, which holds the copyrights on all of Lang's silent films. The newly reconstructed Metropolis features extensive scenes that flesh out many of the supporting characters, fill in previously jarring gaps in the plot and provide additional back story. The music score for Metropolis will be provided live by the Alloy Orchestra, a three-man musical ensemble that will be celebrating its 20th year of writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films.

Breathless (1960)—50th anniversary screening and North American premiere of newly restored print introduced by Jean-Paul Belmondo. French star Jean-Paul Belmondo will introduce the North American premiere of a newly restored print of this seminal French New Wave drama by Jean-Luc Godard. Belmondo plays a hood on the lam with a young American woman (Jean Seberg). Adapted by Godard from a story by François Truffaut, this groundbreaking character study offers candid looks at Parisian life and a romantic anti-hero. Often imitated, but never duplicated, this film had a tremendous impact by opening the door to a looser form of storytelling. In 2010, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association gave Belmondo a career achievement award.

The Story of Temple Drake (1933)—Premiere of the work-in-progress restoration by The Museum of Modern Art, preserved with support from TCM. One of the most daring pre-Code films ever produced, this audacious film has been credited with being the primary catalyst for the creation of the Roman Catholic Church's Legion of Decency. Miriam Hopkins and Jack La Rue star in the story of a rebellious Southern girl who falls into a life of debauchery. Adapted from William Faulkner's controversial novel Sanctuary, which is full of so many unsavory elements, the Hays Office openly discouraged attempts to adapt it.

Dirigible (1931)—Newly restored print introduced by Tom Capra and Frank Capra III. Tom Capra, director Frank Capra's son, and Frank Capra III, the director's grandson and Tom's nephew, will introduce this early Capra drama. Jack Holt, Ralph Graves and Fay Wray star in the story of experimental dirigibles being used in the Antarctic. Elmer Dyer provided the outstanding aerial photography, which includes a fighter plane docking mid-air with a dirigible.

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948)—Rare screening of cult classic introduced by the Film Forum's Bruce Goldstein. This unique gangster film from England has garnered a cult following over the years. It stars Jack La Rue as a gangster who kills a man and kidnaps his rich girlfriend, played by Linden Travers. Scandalous at the time for its frank depiction of sex and violence, the film features an entirely British cast as New Yorkers. The Film Forum's Bruce Goldstein will introduce this screening with a short presentation on the initial reaction to the film by the British press.

The Day of the Triffids (1963)—World-premiere midnight screening of restored print. Howard Keel and Janette Scott star in this adaptation of a novel by John Wyndham (Village of the Damned). It tells the story of a blinding meteor shower followed by an attack by mutant plants. Shortly after this film was released, the original negative was damaged in an accident. In order to return it to its past glory, restoration expert Michael Hyatt (My Fair Lady, Spartacus, Vertigo, Sweet Smell of Success) worked directly on the negative rather than a digital copy. He pain-stakingly removed more than 20,000 specks of dirt, using his own techniques. He also adjusted the color timing on the film. As a result, this Cinemascope film has emerged more beautiful and vibrant than ever.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)—Featuring new audio restoration. James Whale skillfully blended horror with comedy in this brilliant film, which has been newly restored. Boris Karloff returns as the creature, who is now in need of a wife. Ernest Thesiger is the wily Dr. Pretorius, who convinces Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) to take on the task of making one. Elsa Lanchester stars as the bride, as well as Frankenstein author Mary Shelley in a short prelude. Franz Waxman provides the marvelous score, which was later re-used in subsequent films.

Play Time (1967)—70mm print. Jacques Tati's delightful comedy follows his legendary Monsieur Hulot character through modern-day Paris as he tries to keep an appointment. The film's beautifully utilized widescreen is packed with sight gags, while the soundtrack is bursting with inventive audio jokes. Humorist Art Buchwald provides the English dialogue.

Casablanca (1942)—Archival print from the Warner Bros. vault. Regarded by many as one of the screen's greatest romances of all time, this wartime drama stars Humphrey Bogart as a nightclub owner who gets involved in smuggling refugees out of Vichy-controlled Casablanca. Ingrid Bergman is the woman he once lost and who is now seeking to escape the Nazis with her husband, played by Paul Henreid. Claude Rains, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre provide outstanding support in this Best Picture Oscar winner.

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)—Preceded by the Bugs Bunny classic Rabbit Hood (1949). A few weeks before Ridley Scott's Robin Hood comes to theaters with Russell Crowe in the title role, TCM will present the colorful 1938 version of the oft-told tale. Errol Flynn stars as the legendary rogue Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland as his love, Maid Marian. Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone co-star. Erich Wolfgang Korngold's triumphant score set the style for many swashbucklers to follow.

Top Hat (1935)—One of the great Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers pairings of the 1930s, this bright musical about mistaken identity features such Irving Berlin songs as "Cheek to Cheek," "Isn't This a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain" and "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails." It also includes a lavish production number called "The Piccolino." The outstanding supporting cast includes Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick and Eric Blore, as well as Lucille Ball in a bit part.

Some Like It Hot (1959)—Introduced by Tony Curtis. Billy Wilder's hilarious comedy follows two down-and-out musicians as they try to escape the mob by heading to Florida with an all-girl orchestra. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis play the musicians, while Marilyn Monroe, in one of her best performances, is a fellow bandmate determined to land a millionaire. Joe E. Brown and George Raft co-star.

Pillow Talk (1959)—Rock Hudson and Doris Day enjoyed their first and most memorable outing with this sparkling romantic comedy about two people who share the same phone line. Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter co-star in this film that earned top numbers at the box office and an Oscar for its story and screenplay.

Saturday Night Fever (1977)—Disco went to the movies with this enormously popular movie about a young Brooklynite who finds his calling on the dance floor. John Travolta became an instant sensation with his Oscar-nominated performance, while the soundtrack catapulted such hits as "Night Fever," "How Deep is Your Love?" and "Stayin' Alive" to the top of the charts.

Sneak Peek: TCM's Moguls and Movie Stars—TCM is also proud to offer a sneak peek into the network's most ambitious original programming effort to date, Moguls and Movie Stars, a multi-part documentary about the history of the Hollywood film industry. The project, co-produced by Bill Haber's Ostar Productions, is slated to premiere on the network in fall 2010.

Special Programs
Several short programs will be presented throughout the TCM Classic Film Festival, including compilations of animated and live-action shorts and more. They will be introduced by experts in their fields.

Festival Shorts—Presented by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. Leonard Maltin, who is an expert on Hollywood's long tradition of short films, curates and presents this collection of funny and entertaining shorts. Some of the titles included are Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934), How to Sleep (1935) and Movie Pests (1944).

Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection—Presented by author Donald Bogle. Donald Bogle, author of Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: A History of Black Hollywood, will present cartoons that have been kept from the public eye because of negative racial or cultural stereotypes. The collection includes several classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Bogle will provide insight into the racial attitudes of the times in which the cartoons were created. Titles include Clean Pastures (1937), Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves (1943), Goldilocks and the Jivin' Bears (1944), Hittin' the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938), Sunday Go to Meetin' Time (1936), Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943) and Uncle Tom's Bungalow (1937).

Fragments—This compilation features surviving pieces from lost films from two of the world's top film archives, the Academy Film Archive and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Titles to be announced.

The TCM Classic Film Festival will be held Thursday, April 22, through Sunday, April 25, 2010, in Hollywood. Festival passes will go on sale Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Prices will range from $500 to $1,200 for four-day passes.

The festival will involve several venues in a central area of Hollywood, including screenings at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian Theatre. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which has a longstanding role in movie history and was the site of the first Oscar ceremony, will be the official hotel for the festival as well as its central hub Club TCM. Only passholders will be allowed entry into Club TCM, which will include a festival lounge, panel discussions, social events, a boutique and poolside screenings.

Among the panels and events slated for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel are a book signing and display of original art by Tony Curtis; a special screening of Joan Crawford's home movies, hosted by her grandson, Casey LaLonde; a presentation by special effects artist Douglas Trumbull; and numerous scheduled conversations with festival guests. The Hollywood Roosevelt will also feature several panel discussions, including Casting Secrets: The Knack of Finding the Right Actor; A Remake to Remember: Hollywood's Love Affair with Updating Movie Classics; The Greatest Movies Ever Sold: Classic Movie Marketing Campaigns; Location Location Location; Film Continuity: When Details Count; and TCM: Meet the People Behind the Network.

The central gathering point for the TCM Classic Film Festival community will be Club TCM. This area, which is open exclusively to festival passholders, will be abuzz with activity during the entire festival, providing fans with unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Club TCM will be headquartered in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This lavish room is steeped in Hollywood history as the site of the original Academy Awards banquet.

The Road to Hollywood Tour
The "Road to Hollywood Tour" entered TCM Classic Film Festival's landscape only earlier this month and I found it an intriguing addition. When I first mentioned the festival to my Los Angeles colleague Doug Cummings, he replied, "You know, Michael, I just noticed how expensive this festival is. ($500 pass is the cheapest.) It makes a dramatic contrast to the free AFI FEST that occurred in the exact same location a few months ago. It's clearly not set-up for the average moviegoer in recession times!" I thought that was a valid critique. A mutual friend of ours who writes for Variety—and who, out of respect, I won't name—was infuriated by the festival's admittedly high passholder fees. He fumed, "$500 is utterly insane. The hell with that festival—which isn't really a festival anyway."

I don't agree that there is a monolithic definition to a film festival. My interest in film festival studies has proven there are as many kinds of film festivals as there are imagined communities to support them. Though it's a very good question to determine who exactly will support this pricey festival, which on first appearances seems very much for industry audiences and not TCM's faithful (and dispersed) TV demographic. I look forward to being proven wrong.

When I spoke about this over dinner with Jonathan Marlow and Kevin Lee, Jonathan mentioned that the prices were equivalent to those at Telluride and that—aware that TCM has had a presence in past editions at the Telluride Film Festival—wondered if they weren't structuring their festival on Telluride's model? Thus, it hardly came as a surprise to determine that TCM, the producer of the festival, brought Bill and Stella Pence onboard to serve as consultants. The Pences are a couple well-known in industry circles as co-founders of the Telluride Film Festival. "As dedicated fans of TCM, we think a destination film festival for network devotees is a logical and welcome step," Bill Pence said.

Stella Pence said the TCM Classic Film Festival will be a unique proposition. "There are a great many film festivals around the world, but only TCM is so perfectly poised to do something truly original when it comes to classic movies," she said.

Without question, it will be fascinating to see how effective their strategy plays out. In the interim—and perhaps to compensate for the elitist critique levied at the TCM Classic Film Festival—TCM announced earlier this month that they were going to implement the "Road to Hollywood Tour." In the weeks before the festival and to build up to the launch of the TCM Classic Film Festival, TCM is taking its love of great movies to five cities nationwide with the Road to Hollywood tour, a slate of special free screenings. Boston and New York have already experienced their presentations, with Chicago (March 30); Washington, D.C. (April 8); and San Francisco (April 21) yet to occur. Although the screenings are free to the public, tickets are required for entry. Tickets will be available beginning March 1 at

"We couldn't be more thrilled that we'll be able to bring the excitement of our first TCM Classic Film Festival to folks in these five great cities," said Osborne. "This is a great opportunity for us to connect directly with the TCM community across America. We look forward to meeting our fellow movie lovers and sharing our passion for great films."

Below is a complete schedule of TCM's Road to Hollywood screenings.

The Brattle Theatre in Boston—Thursday, March 18, at 8:00PM—The Verdict (1982): Ben Mankiewicz and Boston Herald film critic Jim Verniere will introduce this emotionally powerful legal drama directed by Sidney Lumet and written by David Mamet. Paul Newman earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as an alcoholic lawyer who is having difficulty keeping clients. He lands a dream case, however, when he is hired to sue a hospital for negligence.

The Ziegfeld Theatre in New York—Tuesday, March 23, at 7:30PM—All About Eve (1950): The legendary Elaine Stritch (Company) will join Robert Osborne in the Big Apple to present one of the greatest films ever made about life in the theater. Anne Baxter stars as a young actress determined to weasel her way into the world of top Broadway actress Margo Channing, played with gusto by Bette Davis. Celeste Holme, Thelma Ritter, Gary Merrill, Hugh Marlowe, Marilyn Monroe and an Oscar-winning George Sanders add relish to this outstanding comedy-drama by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

The Music Box Theater in Chicago—Tuesday, March 30, at 7:30PM—North by Northwest (1959): Robert Osborne will by joined by Oscar and Emmy winner Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront) in Chicago for this presentation of one of Alfred Hitchcock's biggest and most enduring hits. Cary Grant plays an everyman mistaken as a double agent and chased across the country by people on both sides of the law. Saint plays the woman unwittingly roped into helping him. James Mason, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau co-star.

The Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C.—Thursday, April 8, at 8:00PM—The More the Merrier (1943): Ben Mankiewicz and producer George Stevens Jr., founding director of the American Film Institute, will introduce this highly entertaining film directed by Stevens' father. Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea star as a pair forced to share a D.C. apartment during a wartime housing shortage. Charles Coburn won an Oscar for his deliciously comic performance.

And here at The Castro in San Francisco—Wednesday, April 21, at 7:30PM—The Lady from Shanghai (1948): Filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (The Last Picture Show), who is an expert on the films of Orson Welles and was a close friend of the director, will be joined by popular San Francisco film critic and show business reporter Jan Wahl of KRON as they introduce this memorable thriller. The story involves a fake murder plot that turns out to be all too real. Welles stars along with Rita Hayworth, Everett Sloane and Glenn Anders. The film's extraordinary imagery includes an exciting hall-of-mirrors sequence that remains a cinematic masterpiece.

Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak

Finally, TCM is joining efforts to save the land surrounding one of the nation's most iconic landmarks—the famous Hollywood sign. TCM will help raise awareness for the Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak through a multi-faceted plan that will leverage the excitement for the first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival.

"The Hollywood sign is an iconic symbol known the world over, but the land surrounding it is in grave danger of being developed in a way that could destroy its appearance," said TCM host Robert Osborne. "As we're about to celebrate the history of Hollywood with our first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival, we are eager and proud to help preserve an important aspect of that history through this important initiative."

The Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak is an ongoing initiative to buy and preserve land surrounding the Hollywood sign. The
Trust for Public Land (TPL), one of the partnering groups on the campaign, needs to raise $12.5 million by April 14 to buy the 138 acres on Cahuenga Peak, located behind and to the left of the "H" in the iconic sign. Land purchased through the Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak will be protected and added to Griffith Park.

Will Rogers, president of TPL, said, "We are very happy that Turner Classic Movies is joining this campaign. This partnership is a very good fit; nothing says Hollywood like the Hollywood sign, and for people who care about the movies, TCM is the first place they turn. We look forward to working with TCM and its fans to protect the view of the sign. And we will continue our efforts to protect open spaces in Los Angeles, which has long been the movie capital of the world."

TCM's plans to help raise awareness for the Campaign to Save Cahuenga Peak include the following:

On-air: A report on the campaign will be featured on TCM's Classic Movie News, a regular feature on TCM and that runs down the latest news about classic cinema.

Online: TCM weekend daytime host Ben Mankiewicz will be featured in a special video message about the campaign, including information about how to donate. The video message will run on and, as well as on TCM's Facebook page and YouTube channel. In addition, the homepage will feature a banner about the campaign, including a link to. TCM will also include information in its weekly email newsletter to fans. And TCM will invite its Facebook friends to post pictures of themselves posing in front of the Hollywood sign.

Donation of 10 TCM Classic Film Festival Passes: TCM will donate 10 Classic-level passes to TPL for the purpose of auctioning them off to raise money for the campaign.

The land surrounding the Hollywood sign was originally bought by industrialist Howard Hughes in 1940 to build a home for movie star Ginger Rogers, his intended bride. When that relationship ended, Hughes kept the land, and in 2002, his estate sold it to the investors who now own it. Two years ago, they put it on the market for $22 million, but it hasn't sold. It is currently zoned for four luxury home sites.

The Cahuenga Peak partnership includes TPL, Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge, the Hollywood Sign Trust, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

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