May 26, 2011 / Filmwell
Kenji Koiso has his summer vacation all planned out: he and his friend Sakuma have …
August 29, 2009
Late last month Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, announced that the museum’s acclaimed 41-year-old weekend film series would end in November “in order to reconsider the nature, scale and scope” of the program. One big problem, he added later, was that the series had lost well over $1 million in the last decade, partly because of a lack of donor support.
On Wednesday the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV announced combined donations of $150,000, enough to keep the program running through next June in the city that is the financial and creative center of the world film industry. Problem solved and crisis averted? Not exactly.
“We’ve had a reprieve, but there are issues involved that are larger than money,” said Debra Levine, one of the leaders of Save Film at LACMA (as the museum is known), a grass-roots coalition that sprang up in opposition to Mr. Govan’s announcement. “…We need to know whether this means the continuation of the current program that we all treasure, or whether we are going to have another traumatic rupture eight or nine months hence.”
…The program “emphasizes classic Hollywood movies and foreign cinema, a lot of which plays in New York but can’t be seen anywhere else in L.A.,” said Doug Cummings, another leader of the protest group, which has obtained nearly 4,000 signatures on a petition that it has circulated online. . . .
Two weeks ago the director Martin Scorsese joined the fray, addressing an open letter to Mr. Govan and the museum board. “I found it profoundly disheartening to know that a vital outlet for the exhibition of what was once known as ‘repertory cinema’ has been cut off in L.A. of all places, the center of film production and the land of the movie-making itself,” he wrote.
Mr. Scorsese also questioned the museum’s stated intention to “place greater emphasis on artist-created films,” which he, like many others upset by the changes Mr. Govan has proposed, seemed to interpret as an unwarranted slap at filmmakers. “To do this would be tantamount to downgrading the worth of cinema,” Mr. Scorsese wrote. “Aren’t the best films made by artists in the first place?”
…Mr. Govan acknowledged that his choice of words “was maybe a little unfortunate” but said his intentions have been “misconstrued in the fever” about the program’s future. “I in no way meant that filmmakers are not artists,” he said, or to imply that movies with conventional narratives would be replaced by “weird, esoteric films” without plots, made by people who are primarily painters or sculptors.
from Movie Buffs vs. Museum in a Dispute Over Cuts, Larry Rohter, New York Times, August 28 2009