In a letter sent to “the TCM Classic Film Festival Community” today. Turner Classic Movies has confirmed that, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, their live and in-person Four Day Classic Film Fest that normally takes place in April in Hollywood is formally moving to a virtual format in 2021.
Drawing a crowd of classic-movie buffs from all around America and the world, the 2020 edition of the fest — which would have been its 11th after being introduced in 2009 — was canceled in March due to the lockdown and closure of theaters (which remain in New York and Los Angeles, with no re-opening plans yet in sight). Instead, TCM did on-air special features tied to past Classic Film Fest selections and interviews, along with newly produced introductions from TCM primetime host Ben Mankiewicz. Getting a jump on planning for the 2021 edition, clearly TCM decided it was too dicey to wait to see if things improve and instead is forging ahead with the idea of an expanded virtual film festival, something others including Toronto, the upcoming AFI Fest and the currently running NYFF have dipped their toes into doing.
Here is the festival’s announcement to their fan base:
“When we last communicated with you, we said we hoped to bring the TCM Classic Film Festival back to Hollywood in 2021. We also reiterated our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our attendees, partners and staff. Given our commitment to producing a safe event for all attendees and the current status of the global pandemic, we will forgo hosting an in-person event and instead be presenting the 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival as a virtual experience.
The TCM staff are already hard at work on building an engaging and unique experience for our fans that will feature exciting discussions and panels, memorable TCM Classic Film Festival moments and movies, and the opportunity to gather as a community and share in our love of classic movies. Stay tuned for details in the coming months!”
As the pandemic rages on with spikes continue in Europe and around the U.S., there is clear concern about carrying on with a hopeful attitude that things will be getting back to normal anytime soon, thus we have recently seen, and will likely continue to see, a spate of announcements of virtual editions of many festivals and awards season events in the coming months just as we saw this week of the PGA Awards move to an all virtual event on March 24, 2021, and the ACE Eddies also saying their newly set April 18 awards may also be virtual. Sundance, SXSW, and Tribeca are other fests looking to increase a virtual presence in various ways as this crisis keeps dragging on.