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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's a wrap (sixth in a series)

So, I am back in Atlanta and no longer experiencing “Hollywood moments.” Should this term, “Hollywood moments,” require any definition, here is a quintessential “moment” that happened to us on the last day of the TCM film festival.

On Sunday night, following the screening of Metropolis (1927), a final party took place at the Roosevelt Hotel. We walked over from Grauman’s to find a sea of people swimming through the lobby. Partly in self-defense, we squeezed ourselves into an anteroom between the main lobby area and the Roosevelt’s bar. Suddenly an attractive young woman in a terribly short dress came running in the front door. She nearly stampeded David McClurkin 74C and me, literally pushed us aside, and for what?

She was not a festival organizer needing to convey something of tactical importance to another festival organizer. She was not even a passholder or a resident of the hotel. Why, then, was she pushing people aside as if a theater were on fire? Simple. She needed to use the mirror.

Yes, the mirror.

For the next five minutes, she tousled her hair, then just as quickly as she blazed in, she stampeded out in her suede boots. Our toes were still tingling from being stepped on, but we were laughing despite the pain. That, my friends, is a Hollywood moment. And I suspect that this one actually ranks fairly low in the outrageousness department compared to some.

Strange as it seems to say, I am almost sad to give up those moments—not to mention these blog postings. The reactions to the festival, which began to bubble up in earnest on the last day, were interesting. For Paige Parvin 96G and me especially, as graduates of Emory’s Film Studies program, there was nothing ordinary about this festival. It was a unique opportunity; and we are grateful to our VP, Ron Sauder, for understanding that—beyond the mirror gazing—serious work is done on that other coast and that we were there to do some. For Genevieve McGillicuddy 96G, the appreciations went beyond what even Paige and I could muster.

Participants told her and Paige (Genevieve’s eyes and ears) about what this festival meant in a way that was surprising and emotional. For one man, it was a reason not to kill himself. For another participant, it got her through a bout of cancer. For yet another participant, TCM the network and then the festival got her through a year of unemployment. If you think about it, TCM has assembled a vast array of supporters for classic cinema that has been united, to this point, only by tuning into the same film on their televisions at the same time. That is community of a sort, but not the highest-order community.

In the main auditorium at the historic Grauman’s Theatre, we all sat together—roughly 1,100 of us. Seeing the restored A Star Is Born (1954) and all the films that followed wasn’t something that I could watch on my iPad. I was elbow to elbow with my fellow viewers. And what happens in that darkened space is much more than the sum of actions on the screen. Indeed, the applause at the end was as much for the delight we took in one another’s company as for the actors.

I already miss it, but I have a day job to which I must return. Again, I thank everyone who made a contribution: the impressive alumni in the industry who granted us interviews (please stay tuned for the fruits of those conversations in the summer Emory Magazine), the high-achieving alumni who came out to our networking reception on Saturday night, and—finally—to Genevieve, who surely is passed out somewhere from exhaustion. Shhh. Let her rest.

Out of deference to Genevieve, I will whisper my parting lines. In a festival replete with (to borrow TCM’s favorite term) “classic” lines, one of the best I heard was this one. During the panel “Casting Secrets,” one of the audience members quoted Milton Berle, who offered the following advice to actors: “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” Words to live by—in Hollywood or anywhere.

Read part 5; Read part 4; Read part 3; Read part 2; Read part 1

-- Susan Carini 04G, executive director, Emory Creative Group

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your blog posts on the TCM festival. I am a 95C grad and came across it on the Emory Alumni linked in website, and was thrilled as I have recently developed an obsession with classic films and related film history. The Hitch story was terrific and I'll be looking for some of Bogdanovitch's writings on my next trip to the library. Thanks!