TCM Film Festival Managing Director Genevieve McGillicuddy reflects on this year’s event

Genevieve McGillicuddy, managing director of the TCM Film Festival, poses at the April 26 screening of “It” (1927) with Robert Ziegler, left, who conducted Carl Davis’ score for the film, and David Stenn, right, author of “Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild.” (Photo credit: TCM/Edward M. Pio Roda)

Genevieve McGillicuddy, managing director of the TCM Film Festival, was gracious enough this week to answer Reveal Shot‘s questions via email about this year’s event and the implications of the renovation planned for the TCL Chinese Theatre, where so many of the biggest screenings have taken place since the festival’s inception in 2010.

Special thanks to Heather Sautter of TCM Publicity, who arranged the interview.

Was there some logistical challenge that came up unexpectedly in 2012 that you were able to resolve this year? If so, can you explain how you resolved it?

Logistically, it’s always a juggling act to produce an event of this scope, especially considering the fact that each year, we have added new venues and increased the number of events and special guests who are able to join us. We’ve learned so much since our first Festival in 2010, and that has enabled us to produce events like the wonderful cast reunions we hosted this past year, with “Deliverance” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” among others.

We’re really fortunate in that we have built a broad team to produce and support the festival, and that team has remained fairly consistent since day one. That consistency has meant that we’ve worked together each year to learn how we can improve and build on past successes.

There are always very tough choices for attendees when two especially popular attractions are screened at the same time, such as “Hondo” and “On The Waterfront.” Is this mostly dictated by the availability of guests and other logistical considerations? Or does it just add to the excitement?

Good question. It starts with programming considerations from TCM’s senior vice president of programming, Charlie Tabesh. He carefully considers the type of program and genre to try and counterbalance the offerings. For example, if we’re screening “Hondo,” you will likely not find another western or 3-D movie playing opposite it.

Other considerations are the talent in attendance, the size of the audience that we anticipate for an event and finally the logistical challenge of the format. Some of our theatres are only equipped for digital formats (which is how many new restorations are screened), and others are only 35mm theaters (reel-to-reel). It’s a complicated puzzle.

TCM13-logoThe open TBA slots on Sundays seemed to work quite well for people who missed certain screenings earlier. Beyond screenings that were sold out, is there anything else that goes into deciding which films to place into those slots?

Those slots are reserved primarily to repeat films that are in-demand by audiences and would benefit from a second show. We also have to keep in mind that the venue reserved for TBAs is format restricted. For example, this year, the theatre used for TBAs could only screen 35mm prints, so that limited to a certain degree what we could show again in that theatre.

With Grauman’s [The TCL] Chinese Theatre undergoing renovation, is there any one theater that has emerged as the most viable substitute in 2014 for the kinds of screenings you would otherwise hold at that venue?

We have every intention of returning to the TCL Chinese Theatre in 2014. We are working with current management, keeping apprised of the renovations, etc. In addition to returning to the Chinese, we look to continue to use many of the venues that we have utilized in recent years. The Egyptian Theatre, the Cinerama Dome, the El Capitan Theatre and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel have all been great venues and a terrific fit for our festival.

Lastly, did you have a favorite screening at the festival this year? If so, what made it special?

The biggest surprise for me this year was the screening of “Cinerama Holiday.” I had never seen the film prior to the screening we did at the Cinerama Dome, and we were lucky enough to have two of the stars of the film in person at the event. The film is a genuine time capsule of what the U.S. was like in the mid-1950s, from a pre-Rat Pack Las Vegas to an extended tour of my home state, New Hampshire.

And I was blown away at how gorgeous a travelogue it is. This was a recent digital restoration, and it’s not hard to see why the film was the second top-grossing release of 1956, as Leonard Maltin related in his introduction. “Cinerama Holiday” was truly a discovery, and screenings like that are one of the many reasons it has been such a joy to work on this festival.

— David B. Wilkerson

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