Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival draws students to Hollywood

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Dana Barraco, Entertainment - By Dana Barraco on Thursday, April 19, 2012 - 03:20

Hollywood has tempted many Whittier College students to explore its festivities, whether they be red carpet events, clubs and restaurants or the hope of seeing a movie star while walking down the street. But it’s expensive, far away and so big that many students do not know where to start. Why not enjoy a movie in one of the most famous theatres in the world, free of charge?

The Turner Classic Movie (TCM) Classic Film Festival now occurs annually after testing the waters for its first three years. It screens various genres of films from all eras including documentary, experimental, horror and comedy in world famous theaters like Grauman’s Chinese Theater and the Egyptian Theater.

There were nearly 100 movies screened in this year’s festival and close to 50 special guests. These special guests, including directors, actors, writers and producers, held discussions before several screenings on topics varying from editing to set design. The festival provides an exciting environment and endless opportunity to enjoy the company of fellow movie fanatics.
This year’s special guests included comedian, actor, writer and director Mel Brooks, whose movies include Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and Spaceballs, as well as actress and singer Liza Minnelli, actor and director Kirk Douglas and actress Kim Novak.

Yet one of the main exciting draws of the festival was the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Home to the premieres of Hollywood blockbusters, such as Iron Man, The Lucky One and 300, this theater seats 1,151 people while the colossal screen measures up to 85 by 60 feet. That is about an eight-story building wide and a six-story building tall! This is also the theater that houses the cement autographs along with the hand and foot prints of Hollywood’s finest.

This year several students attended the screening of Chinatown, the 1974 classic murder mystery. A young Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway become intertwined in a murder case that seems to have something to do with water consumption and distribution in Los Angeles.

A beautiful love story unfolds, pocked by deceit, controversy and mystery, ending in an abrupt, tragic heartbreak. Even though many in the audience, appearing to be on the older side, had seen the movie, a playful and responsive atmosphere enveloped viewers. The theater was packed full of an intensely alert audience.

Before the show, screenwriter Robert Towne, most famous for writing the Mission Impossible series, and producer Robert Evans discussed such topics as music composition and personal stories about the movie’s production. It was truly a movie lovers paradise complete with comfy seats and good company.

For the last three years, the festival has donated to Whittier College several day passes as well as ticket vouchers to see special night screenings. In the past, publicity of the event has escaped the student body, however, this year a fair amount of film students attended the festival. “This is my first semester at Whittier College,” junior transfer Auggie Mares said.“And already I have had the opportunity to attend the TCM Festival. This just shows how great the faculty is and I cannot wait for future opportunities.”

Assistant Professor of the Film Studies Program John Bak has organized the participation of students in the festival for as long as it has been open to the campus. Next year’s festival is already underway with information on screenings and guests available later this year.