Elvis Mitchell Hired to Curate LACMA Film Series

Embattled film program at L.A. County Museum of Art gets a celebrated curator who's no stranger to controversy

A troubled film program now has a controversial new curator.

Film critic Elvis Mitchell has been named curator of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's new Film Series, LACMA and Film Independent announced on Thursday.

The LACMA Film Series program was slated to be terminated in 2008, but was saved by public outcry, by statements from the likes of Martin Scorsese, and by grants from a number of Hollywood organizations, including Time Warner Cable and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 

Elvis MitchellFilm Independent (FIND) made a deal to take over the program in April, only days before its executive director Dawn Hudson accepted the top job at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Currently the host of the KCRW radio program "The Treatment," Mitchell has been a well-traveled and occasionally controversial critic over the past decades. He has worked as a critic for the New York Times, the L.A. Weekly and the Detroit Free Press, among others, has made documentary films, and in recent years has served as a visiting lecturer at Harvard University.

In addition, he has spent time on the Film Independent board of directors and on its Spirit Awards nominating committees.

Mitchell also has a history of lasting only a short time in new jobs, including a recent one at Movieline.com – and, occasionally, of accepting jobs and then not showing up at all.

The LACMA/FIND press release promises that Mitchell will move to Los Angeles and become a full-time staff member at FIND, working with its programming department and curatorial staff on the film series.

“Having known Elvis for many years, I am certain that he will bring the perfect intelligence to this new joint screening series that will cross genres, historical periods and cultures," said LACMA CEO Michael Govan in the press release announcing his appointment.

Mitchell said that selling tickets at LACMA's Bing Theater was his first job in Los Angeles, "and to get to return to supervise a program at a place that is an intersection of art and popular culture is a dream come true."

Film Independent also presents the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, which kicks off on Thursday night in downtown Los Angeles.