Highlights of the 2023 TCM Film Festival | Festivals & Awards
Plus, there were appearances from Hollywood A-listers such as director Paul Thomas Anderson, Ann-Margret, Diane Baker, Tom Berenger, actor-director George Clooney, director Joe Dante, cinematographer Ernest Dickerson, Angie Dickinson, Richard Dreyfuss, director William Friedkin, Louis Gossett Jr., actor-director Danny Huston, Amy Irving, Shirley Jones, director John Landis, composer-conductor David Newman, Edward James Olmos, director Alexander Payne, director Steven Soderburgh, producer-director George Stevens Jr., and Mr. Hollywood himself, director-producer Steven Spielberg. In addition, TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Alicia Malone, Eddie Muller, Jacqueline Stewart and Dave Karger introduced films and served as emcees throughout.
With 2022 as a transition year, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the festival online in 2020 and 2021, TCMFF has returned to business as usual, without the health-related restrictions of 2022. “The number of passholders is up,” said Genevieve McGillicuddy, the festival’s executive director. “And it’s a relief not to have to deal with COVID protocols. As with each year, there’s even more excitement.”
This year’s festival also celebrated the centennial of Warner Bros., founded on April 4, 1923, by four immigrant siblings. Since 1996, the Warner media complex has been the corporate parent of the cable network Turner Classic Movies, which presents the annual festival. A year ago, the venerable studio became part of Warner Discovery, and the merger saddled the firm with more than $50 billion in debt. As a consequence, priorities seemingly have changed, despite reassuring comments made by Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav onstage before “Rio Bravo.”
With the company in economy mode, some festival activities and programming followed suit this year. Among the casualties: the handprint ceremony in the TCL Chinese forecourt, the annotated printed schedule, fewer poolside screenings, full live accompaniment for silent films and certain venues (though the latter might have been primarily a logistical issue).
The diminished offerings recalled a retort from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (originally produced by MGM Television but now part of the Warner library). It came without ribbons; it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. In past years, for instance, media attendees received lavish sacks of swag, including bottles of TCM-branded wine, copies of TCM-published books and assorted trinkets; this time, they got a thin canvas tote and a choice of two TCM-produced books. On the plus side, it meant fewer things to stuff into the suitcase for the trip home.