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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Classic Film Festival Canceled Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Hollywood's annual gathering of classic film fans, the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, has been cancelled due to the unpredictable spread of the coronavirus. The event was set to take place from April 16-19 at multiple locations along Hollywood Boulevard, including the historic Roosevelt Hotel, Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Egyptian Theater, as well as the Legion Theater at Post 43.

The festival organizers said in an email to ticket buyers on Thursday that "we have made the difficult decision to cancel." They also made it clear that, "all pass purchases [ranging from $349 to $2,449] will be refunded 100%." Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz said in a video explaining the decision, "After talking to our festival partners, as well as the actors, directors and writers who had committed to attending, we didn't feel we could ask all of you — in good conscience — to come to Los Angeles for the festival."

Organizers added, "We assure our fans that we will begin planning the next TCM Classic Film Festival soon and will endeavor to make 2021 edition the best Festival yet." Classic film fans are crushed by the news, but of course, safety must comes first. As the virus has spread globally, many of the most high-profile industry conferences and festivals have been either scrapped or postponed until later in the summer or fall. Since the TCMFF venues like the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX can seat 932 moviegoers, while the smallest theater of the Chinese 6 can hold 177, and the Lloyd E. Rigler Theatre down the street at the Egyptian Theatre can seat 616, the festival was potentially an ideal breeding ground for any sort of virus, let alone such an aggressive one.

Other festivals have also decided to take the cautionary road in response to the health scare. Effected by the pandemic are Austin's 34th annual music and tech fest SXSW, the mighty musical experience known as Coachella, Miami's Ultra Music Fest, the video game convention E3, the annual technology confab NAB in Las Vegas, as well as the Las Vegas based CinemaCon. But there are as of the moment a few holdouts such as the Cannes Film Festival, which is taking more of a "wait-and-see" approach. With the French festival so far away, it is possible for everything to clear up by then. At least, let's hope so.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health said on March 11 that it recommends avoiding for now large gatherings, "such as ticketed events (such as theaters, concert halls, and sporting events) if you are at higher risk of getting very sick from infection, such as the elderly (65 or older), people with underlying health conditions and pregnant women." With that in mind and many other precautionary concerns, it is completely understandable that TCM has cancelled this year's classic film festival.

I am certainly among the many who are saddened by the news that the annual meeting of the world's most devoted film nerds has been cancelled. It is certainly a necessary precaution that is worth the disappointment. I for one will be spending a lot more time watching TCM and my many classic films on DVD to make up for the loss. I'm also likely to become much more present on social media regarding my love of older movies. More than likely many other festival fans will do the same and discover a new outlet for their devotion. Festivals may come and go, but fandom will always exist regardless of the medium.


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