This will be my seventh year attending the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), held April 21 to 24, 2022. In addition, I have been going to Comic-Con and other fan conventions for decades, so I know what it’s like to spend four or five days in a strange city living out of a hotel room and running around from the time you get up in the morning until the time you collapse in your room late at night.
This is, I think, the sixth version of this guide I've done. I've tried to refine things over the years and have decided to split this post up into three parts:
- Part 1 (this part) covers the nuts and bolts of how TCMFF works.
- Part 2 covers making the most of your experience and will also contain links to other similar posts past and present. I will do my best to update with new links as I find them.
- Part 3 covers preserving your sanity in the craziness of TCMFF
What This Guide Will Not Cover
- Entry to the Opening Night Gala Party following the official Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening
- Meet-and-greet events
- Priority entry to screenings (separate line that goes in first, does not guarantee you a seat if the theater is full)
- Limited edition TCM Classic Film Festival poster
- Entry to the official Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre (but not the party afterwards)
- TCMFF swag bag (gift bag)
- Access to all film programs but does not include the Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening nor the Opening Night Gala Party afterwards
- Access to Club TCM events, panels and poolside screenings at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
- Opening Night welcome reception in the early evening on Thursday at Club TCM in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
- Closing Night party on Sunday at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
- Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – Home to Club TCM and the Poolside screenings. Club TCM is where a most of the guest interviews and special programs will be. In years past, there was a fairly low stage, rows of chairs and a standing area behind the chairs. If you’re at the back of the standing area, you might not be able to see very well. If there is an event that is really important to you, make sure you get there extra early. The pool is just that, a swimming pool with a screen at the one end. Everybody says get there extra early if you want one of the lounge chairs. I've only been to a coupled of the poolside screenings.
- Chinese Theatre IMAX (920 seats) – This is the old Grauman’s Chinese theater. If you cross Hollywood Blvd. from The Roosevelt, you’re there. Okay, it's down a little bit, but it is very close. For lines, they usually run some Disneyland-style switchbacks in front of the theater and then break the line and start up again up the stairs up into the Ovation Hollywood mall (formerly Hollywood and Highland mall). Don’t panic if the line goes back a long way. It’s a huge theater. In the past I've seen the line wind through the mall, out the side of the mall and almost all the way back to the front of the theater, and I still got in.
- TCL Chinese 6 Theatres – Located inside the Ovation Hollywood mall. Currently, the TCMFF site only says that three screens are being used, but not the size of the theaters. I will try to update the theater sizes sizes when they are announced.
- Legion Theater at Post 43 (484 Seats) – Located at 2035 N. Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is a newly refurbished historical theater in the American Legion Post 43. Very cool venue. According to Google Maps, the distance from the Hollywood Roosevelt to Legion Theater is 0.6 miles (compared to 0.3 miles to the Egyptian, not being used this year, bummer) Google Maps calls it a 12 minute walk. The TCMFF web site calls it a 15 to 20 minute walk. It is possible to cut through Ovation Hollywood mall, and you might shave time off that, hard to say. If you were coming from the TCL Chinese 6, it definitely would be faster to go out the back of the mall. There is a way to exit the mall to the north that puts you out on Highland Ave. near the Loew's Hotel. Also by going through the mall you can go almost the entire way without dealing with Hollywood Blvd. craziness. That might save some time as well.
- Other venues. In years past, TCMFF has held a small number of events at other venues. At this point, it's hard to say if that will happen this year. I'm guessing it will not. The Egyptian Theatre is undergoing renovations and is scheduled to re-open in 2022, but likely will not be open in time for TCMFF. The Cinerama Dome is currently listed online as permanently closed. However, there was an article posted in mid-December by the Hollywood Reporter saying that the company that owns the theater has applied for a liquor license and plans to re-open in 2022. Again, likely, this may happen too late for TCMFF. That said, it is possible the people at TCM will pull a rabbit out of their fedora and announce something about additional venues in the coming weeks. I'm not holding my breath, but it would be nice.
There's roughly an hour between blocks, and you would think that leaves you plenty of time to get from one screening to the next, but it doesn't always work out that way. Let's say, one person goes to a screening of a 90-minute movie that starts at 9 am, and another person goes to 2-hour movie that also starts at 9 am. The 90-minute movie person has an extra half hour between blocks and probably won't have much trouble getting to a second screening at 12, whereas the 2-hour movie person might be scrambling. All films have someone introducing them. Sometimes, it's a simple 5-minute intro like we're used to seeing on the network. Other times, it may be a 20 minute presentation or interview with one the film's stars or director. You really need to pay close attention to start and end times.
Epics, like Gone with the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia will take up two blocks. Sometimes blocks will pair a longer movie, say a 2 1/2-hour movie opposite a pair of short movies, like a 70-minute Pre-Code and an 80-minute film noir. It can get pretty complicated, and that time window between blocks of movies do not always align perfectly well.
- Essentials – Classics that pretty much every one knows, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Double Indemnity
- Discoveries – Lesser known classic and sometimes foreign films, Merrily We Go to Hell, When Worlds Collide, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
- Special Presentations – Films with more in-depth discussions/celebrity interviews, collections of short films, silent films with live accompaniment, and so on
- Tributes – Films that also feature appearance by/interviews with high profile guests
- A number of themes, in 2019, the themes included the following:
- Magnificent Obsessions
- A Celebration of 20th Century Fox
- Nitrate – Presumably, no Nitrate this year (I think the Egyptian is the only theater in the area with the equipment required to safety screen Nitrate prints)
- Club TCM Events – Panel discussions, Hollywood Home Movies, etc.