I’m not a big hugger; it’s nothing personal, it’s just not my thing. But I received – and gave – more hugs at the recently completed TCM Classic Film Festival than in any other weekend of my adult life.
So, what gives?
Turner Classic Movies’ fifth annual conclave was brilliantly curated and flawlessly executed, with more than 100 events in a 4-day cinematic cyclone that concluded with THE WIZARD OF OZ – in the same venue that hosted the film’s premiere 75 years ago. Over the course of just 82 hours, I caught 16 screenings, 3 panel discussions, a celebrity-filled tribute to host Robert Osborne, a number of parties, very little sleep, and almost no food. It was, as always, a delightfully exhausting and supremely unforgettable experience.
But TCM got one thing wrong this year.
The announced theme for 2014 was “Family in the Movies: the Ties That Bind.” Based on what I witnessed – and experienced myself – I’d amend that to “Family at the Movies.” Because thousands of people, many who had never met before, laughed together, cried together, hugged, bonded, and otherwise felt a connection that some of us don’t often experience in our daily lives. And it all happened in the audience at some of the most historic venues in Hollywood.
It was like a reunion, with family we’d never met. And the tie that bound us all together was Turner Classic Movies.
I know this sounds really sappy. And I’m sure I’ll read this post in a week or two, when I’m less sleep deprived, hungry, and emotionally vulnerable, and I’ll probably cringe at the sentimentality. But that’s why I’m writing this now, just hours after I got off the plane from LAX, before my native sarcasm has an opportunity to re-calcify.
Fact: the people who attend the TCM Classic Film Festival are some of my favorite people in the world. I don’t care how old they are, what they look like, where they live, what they do for a living, or whom they voted for in the last election.
“Conservatives, liberals, progressives, and libertarians all unite in their love of Humphrey Bogart,” host Ben Mankiewicz said at the press conference that kicked off the festivities on Thursday morning at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Hollywood.
My apologies to my actual family and IRL friends and co-workers, but I feel closer to the friends I’ve made through my TCM viewership than to many (most?) other people in my life. Without a doubt, social media facilitates these interactions and helps to consecrate the transmogrification from virtual to actual. We may meet in person for the first time at TCMFF, but we feel like we’ve known each other for years. Because, in many cases, thanks to Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram, we have.
If you’re reading a blog about classic film, you probably already know this. What you may not know, however, is how real the emotion is when we all say goodbye, and how much we look forward to seeing each other again. Seriously, when was the last time you felt that way about your real family?
In the midst of the sadness/euphoria of the closing night party at the Roosevelt Hotel on Sunday, Monster Island Resort host Miguel Rodriquez recorded a special TCMFF edition of his excellent podcast. I’m featured on it, along with a motley crew of classic film bloggers and tweeters, including Paula Guthat, Citizen Screen (aka Aurora), Joel Williams, Kellee Pratt, Nitrate Diva (aka Nora), and Beth Accomando. All of these folks tweet regularly using the #TCMParty hashtag. Click here to listen.
Also: for you on-line types who couldn’t be there this year, here are some pictures to help you connect faces with @ names. This will make it even easier when you join us in 2015. But start saving your pennies now! The hugs may be free at the TCM Classic Film Festival, but the passes are not.