Leonard Maltin and Family Establish New Hollywood Film Fest

The event, which the legendary film critic is organizing in collaboration with his wife, Alice, and daughter, Jessie, will take place May 10-12.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Leonard Maltin

If anyone is qualified to host a film festival highlighting "hidden gems" — as in, great movies that didn't find the audience they deserved — it is a man who has probably seen more movies than anyone else alive, Leonard Maltin, the bearded and bespectacled film critic best known for his analog-era annual Movie Guide (which was first published exactly 50 years ago), and the two women with whom he has shared his life, his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Jessie.

To that end, the Sherman Oaks-based trio has established MaltinFest, the inaugural edition of which will take place May 10-12 at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood (which Netflix is in talks to acquire), with plenty of big-name talent lined up to make appearances.

Among those attending to introduce their films and/or participate in Q&As: Alexander Payne and Laura Dern, tied to 1996's Citizen Ruth; Phil Rosenthal, on behalf of 2010's Exporting Raymond; Nicole Holofcener, for 2010's Please Give; Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski with 2014's Big Eyes; and Holly K. Payne, representing her late partner Jon Schnepp's 2015 documentary The Death of 'Superman Lives': What Happened?.

Every feature screened at the fest will be accompanied by a vintage 35mm short subject or cartoon courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archive, the Academy archive, Paramount, Universal or Warner Bros. (Maltin is among the world's leading experts on shorts — one of his first books, published in 1972, was The Great Movie Shorts: Those Wonderful One- and Two-Reelers of the Thirties and Forties, a copy of which I recently snagged off a bookshelf in South Africa, of all places.)

Live podcasts will also be on offer, with Doug Benson recording an episode of his Doug Loves Movies on May 10, after which he will introduce John Carney's 2016 film Sing Street; and Joe Dante and Josh Olson recording their The Movies That Made Me, with Maltin himself as their guest. (Leonard and Jessie Maltin cohost a podcast of their own, Maltin on Movies.)

The fest, which is selling weekend passes on Maltin's website, will close Sunday with Mother's Day mimosas, book signings (featuring film book authors Jon Burlingame, Don Hahn, Tracey Goessel, Robert Bader, Chris Nichols, George Geary, Alicia Malone, Kliph Nesteroff and, of course, Maltin himself) and a screening of Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla using a 35mm print donated to the Academy by Bela Lugosi Jr., the son of the film's star.