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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCMFF 2019: Day 1 for the Classic Film Fan.

This is the 10th Anniversary of the TCM Classic Film Festival, otherwise know as the TCMFF. Held in Hollywood, California every year since its inception in 2010, the TCMFF is known for bringing beloved classic films back to the big screen for fans to enjoy as they were meant to be seen - in a darkened theater with a bunch of strangers. However, at the TCMFF there is no such thing as strangers. For this is where classic film fans of all types join their "tribe" for four days of bonding over classic cinema. In a way, it's very much like Comic-con, where all are welcome, veterans and newbies alike, for a festival that celebrates the culture they love best. Welcome to the TCMFF 2019!

My fest actually began the night before, on the 10th. Wednesday is the traditional night when those who have press passes (even those representing social media) gather to socialize with each other and rub shoulders with the folks from TCM. Often there are other notables as well, such as Leonard Maltin, and various celebrity guests who have been invited to be apart of the festivities. It's always fun and often the only opportunity to see who's here from the other outlets. In fact, it may be the only time we see each other all year. There are drinks and some food, but mostly it's the calm before the storm of covering the festival with a full court press. Sadly for me, this year I'm suffering from an extreme allergy reaction, so my voice is intermittently mildly annoying to just gone. I did get a chance to see and briefly meet scheduler Charles Tabesh, the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, on air hosts Alicia Malone, and Ben Mankiewicz. These encounters were limited due to my lack of voice, but just as informative as ever, offering a sort of peek behind the curtain to see just what the masters of the machinery have planned.

Then there was the next day, Day 1 of the tenth anniversary TCMFF. With the big build up to what was surely to be a very exciting venture, I had high expectations for the tenth annual festival that was being touted as the festival to beat all the past festivals. I really looked forward to the first day festivities, including "Meet TCM", "So You Think You Know The Movies", and the "Welcome Party". However, the day started off bad for me and just got worse. I pretty much missed out on the whole day with the exception of getting a few moments to enjoy the opening night party. I was really looking forward to this year, even though it is the first year I was not allowed a pass for the red carpet (a bit of a disappointment, indeed). Apparently, the festival has just gotten too big to have as many online media (social and otherwise) reps standing along the stanchions that separate the red carpet from the reporters. The upside was it meant I could spend more time doing other TCM stuff for which I'd never before had enough time. Or so was the plan. But life took another path.

Without going into much detail, my hairdresser cancelled at the last minute for a 9:00am appointment (it takes a village to prepare me for opening night). Then I was pulled over by a cop, where I was promptly relieved of my vehicle due to an unbeknownst registration in another state (thanks CarMax). My husband spent hours at home in Riverside while I spent the morning (and several hundred dollars) in Hollywood waiting for the my vehicle to be released. This did not give me the best start to a weekend I wait for all year. I missed out on the pre-fest events and most of the Opening Night Party. I did manage to make it to the line for one of the last screenings of the night, The Umbrellas of Cherbourge. Unfortunately, the film was delayed for the better part of an hour, so I had to abandon the screening at the last minute in order to catch the last shuttle to the opening night party.

The opening night party is really quite an amazing part of the festival. For attendees this is the single most exciting, event of the whole festival. It's organized just like a true Hollywood Premier event. This year's venue was a repeat of last year's, located right on Sunset Boulevard, with an entrance guarded by a bouncer. Upon entering the first thing you see is a gorgeous outdoor courtyard, complete with a giant reflection pool set beneath a ton of string lights. Multiple open bars and small bungalows line each side, all of which leads to the main attraction on the inside of one of Hollywoods most exclusive clubs, Boulevard3. What's promised on the inside does not disappoint and is even more dazzling than you can imagine.

There are all sorts of inviting hors d'oeuvres, more open bars, a band, wall to wall celebrities, and plenty of ambiance to never let you forget this is a true TCM party. It is only accessible to those with a Spotlight Pass, but it's really something everyone who loves the festival should splurge for on at least once. With all the stunning display of decorations and lighting they created the perfect ambiance for which I was too inappropriately dressed to stay long. In a rush to make it I forgot I was not dressed for the red carpet as I had been in previous years. In my jeans, Humphrey Bogart t-shirt, and sneakers I stuck out like a sore thumb. I was so uncomfortable I stayed only long enough to share a toast of champaign with my Spotlight Pass sister before taking the first shuttle back to the Chinese Theater.

Although for my first day of the 2019 TCMFF started of pretty rough (understatement) it finished with a bang. The rest of the festival was bound to continue on an upward raise, right? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. My experience has proven that just about anything can happen here. Anything, including surprise last minute star guests and amazing close encounters with classic film stars face to face right in the theater lobby. And, of course, there are the friends you make. Year after year I have met so many people with whom I've enjoyed a long wait in line, or a conversation with those seated on either side of me before a screening. I expect no less this year. This is what I remember most from every TCMFF.

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