This week the big April film festivals are tripping all over each other churning out announcements of film premieres, starry panels, schedules, events and so much more. Directly competing for attention — and against each other — on opposite coasts are, of course, the ever-growing Tribeca Film Festival in New York and the San Francisco International Film Festival which seems to be going strong despite the untimely tragic passings of its last two leaders, Graham Leggat and his successor Bingham Ray. Both fests get underway on April 19th after Tribeca offers up their World Premiere opener, Universal’s comedy, The Five-Year Engagement on April 18. SFIFF will open the next evening with Benoit Jacquot’s Farewell My Queen. This week that fest announced five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh will receive their prestigious Founders Directing Award on April 27th, while Tribeca announced they will be closing their fest the next day with the World Premiere of sure-to-be summer blockbuster The Avengers from Disney and Marvel. Earlier this week Tribeca announced an intriguing panel with founder Robert DeNiro , Meryl Streep and Judd Apatow discussing Universal’s first 100 years. Tribeca is particularly agressive in trying to move up in the world film festival hierarchy. The whole team was out in L.A. last week for a party touting this year’s fest. Tribeca Fest Director Geoff Gilmore told me they really decided to go for some of the most intriguing titles this year and thinks the effort has paid off in an exciting lineup he thinks will gain strong attention.
It may be hard for Hollywood to compete with these two well-regarded fests but a pair of my favorites are also happening right in the heart of L.A. and right around the same time. The Franco-American Cultural Fund has just announced the schedule for the 16th Annual City of Lights, City of Angels (Col-Coa) french film festival, a sort of Cannes on Sunset Blvd that will feature 34 feature films and 21 shorts including 10 North American and U.S. Premieres, and 14 West Coast Premieres. It runs April 16-23 at the DGA theatre. Opening night will be the North American preem of My Way, the story of French pop star Claude Francois from director Florent-Emilio Siri and starring Jeremie Renier. Closer will be The Weinstein Company’s next attempt at success with a French-produced film after their Cannes sensation The Artist picked up 5 Oscars including Best Picture. The Intouchables from writer/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano is the third most successful french-bred box office hit and actually won the Best Actor Cesar Award for star Omar Sy who beat Oscar’s golden boy Jean Dujardin for the honor. Among the impressive list of films at Col-Coa will be Cannes Jury Special Prize winner Polisse one day after its U.S. premiere at Tribeca and the aforementioned Farewell My Queen which gets a special Col-Coa presentation just before it opens SFIFF, proving just how inter-connected all these colliding April festivals are in the intense competition for hot titles.
One festival that doesn’t have to worry about competing for the same films is the 3rd annual TCM Classic Film Festival from Turner Classic Movies April 12-15. It’s all about what its title says, this year saluting Style In The Movies, and has been a solid Hollywood hit since its initial outing two years ago, drawing classic film enthusiasts from the U.S. and around the world. Each year it seems to get bigger , a real frustration for film buffs who can’t possibly see all , or even most of the over 50 mouth-watering presentations. Today TCM announced even MORE additions to its already over-flowing sked including a special Bond Girls screening of Dr. No on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, a Mel Brooks appearance at Young Frankenstein and a screening of Chinatown with producer Robert Evans and Oscar winning writer Robert Towne among many other events added today. This list joins several previously announced shows including the opening night premiere of the restoration of Cabaret celebrating its 40th anniversary with stars Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey on hand for a Q&A with TCM host Robert Osborne. The next day Kim Novak will sit with Osborne for a career retrospective as well after getting her hand and footprints immortalized in cement at the fest’s home base, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
In addition to Cabaret, numerous restorations will be featured including 1962’s all star war epic The Longest Day and the classic 1967 Two For The Road which will be part of a larger tribute to star Audrey Hepburn and a salute to its director Stanley Donen (who will appear). There will be more restorations on view including 1959’s Rio Bravo with star Angie Dickinson, 1958’s British take on the Titanic , A Night To Remember and 1954’s Disney adventure 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea to be presented by its 95 year old star Kirk Douglas.
In addition to the too-many-to-list film programs there will be special panels at Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel including three that are being produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences on subjects ranging from red carpet fashion to the work of art directors and costume designers. I will also be hosting a panel exploring the golden age of Hollywood’s PR machine.
And smack in the middle of all this April film festival action , expect Cannes to steal the thunder and announce the lineup for this year’s most anticipated film fest set for May 16-27.