This past spring, I was fortunate enough to be able to host Toronto's own Norman Jewison at the 2007 Sarasota Film Festival as the recipient of our festival’s highest honor, the Regal Cinemas Career Achievement Award. In addition to the festival’s black-tie dinner honoring Mr. Jewison, I was able to work with him to program a small retrospective of his films (which included The Thomas Crown Affair, A Soldier’s Story, Fiddler On the Roof and Moonstruck among others), but the highlight for me was a special taping of Turner Classic Movies’ Private Screenings series, hosted by Robert Osborne.
Taped for the first time in front of a live audience at Sarasota’s Historic Asolo Theater, Private Screenings: Norman Jewison will air on TCM on Thursday, September 13, 2007 at 8:00 pm. It was a great event, and we were absolutely thrilled to be able to work with TCM to make this happen. I’m hopeful that we can continue our relationship with what is my favorite TV network; Hopefully we can announce another Private Screenings taping this year. It is, more than anything else, a great experience for our audience to be able to see a sampling of an artist’s work and then to have this interaction with someone like Normal Jewison well, what a treat.
I know a lot has been made of festivals premiering new work (and the small, ridiculous turf battles that ensue), but one of the great pleasures for me as a programmer is to be able to take some time to look back at great work. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to program a fairly comprehensive Werner Herzog non-fiction retrospective in 2006, a more modest Norman Jewison program in 2007 and classic films like Stuart Cooper’s Overlord, Tati’s Playtime and Rossellini’s The Flowers of St. Francis along side our program of new films, all of them shown on the big screen with stadium seating and wonderful sound. The best part? Seeing people’s faces when they leave the theater, smiling and discussing the films as if they had discovered them for the first time. I can’t wait to get cracking on our retrospective screenings for 2008; I already have some plans in the works. Stay Tuned….