Turner Classic Movies Presents the Special Home Edition of the TCM Film Festival

If you’re a follower of this blog, you’ll know that every spring around this time, I gleefully toddle off to Los Angeles, California, to attend the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. You might also know (or at least have guessed) that this year’s L.A. event was cancelled more than a month ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But what you might not know is that TCM is serving up another type of event this year – the first-ever TCM “Special Home Edition” Film Festival. This four-day cinematic celebration will feature films from both past film festivals and from the fest that was planned for this year, along with a variety of special features.

To kick off the Special Home Edition of the film festival, TCM offered a virtual roundtable interview on April 14th, featuring host Ben Mankiewicz, General Manager Pola Changnon and Senior VP of Programming, Charlie Tabesh. I was pleased and privileged to be invited to participate in this event.

Pola Changnon and Ben Mankiewicz with Peter Bogdanovich at the 2017 TCM Film Festival

According to Changnon, who took over the position of TCM General Manager in January 2020, the idea for the Special Home Edition evolved shortly after the decision was made to cancel the regular festival.

“We were obviously looking with concern at the pandemic. It was literally about a month ago when it was clear that we were going to have to cancel the fest, and we didn’t even feel comfortable postponing it,” Changnon said. “By the end of the day, Charlie felt confident that he could pull something together on our network in place of the festival. Within a couple of days, we knew that we had something really special.”

Tabesh stated that one of the considerations in planning the Special Home Edition was to include programming that the network doesn’t ordinarily air, including interviews and tribute pieces from previous years. He added that his team has done an “amazing” job, working remotely, pulling together material from previous years.

Senior VP of Programming Charlie Tabesh said that TCM is bringing fans together virtually in a way that wouldn’t have been possible previously.

In addition to the features from past fests, the Special Home Edition will include new film introductions from Ben Mankiewicz that were filmed in the past few weeks.

“We shot some stuff in a way I’ve never shot anything before – an unbelievably scaled-down crew and no one came within 10 feet of me,” Mankiewicz said. “The programming you’ll see this weekend will look different. I’m also reminded that people look forward to the festival all year – that includes us – because of this incredible connection we offer to our fans. When we announced the cancellation, I was asked to write something to say on the air. Both in writing and delivering it, I got very emotional. What Charlie programmed helped us all – it certainly helped me.”

Stay home and watch TCM!

Mankiewicz also spoke about the impact of the COVID-19 quarantine and the videos he has filmed for social media to reach out to TCM fans.

“I know I’m in a better position that a lot of people to get through this. I see those food bank lines and read about grocery store workers literally risking their lives, and I just wanted to check in,” he said. “We have a meaningful community here and it means a lot to me.” He also shared that he’d heard from one TCM fan who’d gotten fired from his job of 30 years on the day that Mankiewicz posted his first video. The fan said that he went home, bundled up, and turned on TCM, Mankiewicz recalled, adding, “This network lives because fans care about it so deeply.”

The Special Home Edition of the film festival runs April 16th through April 19th. Click here to view the line-up. And stay tuned for my coverage of this exciting and unique event!

~ by shadowsandsatin on April 14, 2020.

One Response to “Turner Classic Movies Presents the Special Home Edition of the TCM Film Festival”

  1. Ben M. has been such a comfort these days. More so than usual. I am going to miss seeing you this week Karen! Stay safe and well xo

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