Film Independent Steps in to Run Troubled L.A. County Museum Film Program

Money-losing film series will be subject of new partnership between LACMA and Spirit Awards organization

On the verge of elimination less than two years ago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's film program now has a new partner in Film Independent, the organization that stages the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The partnership, said LACMA and FIND in an announcement on Wednesday, grew out of a year-long analysis of the film series, during which the museum concluded that FIND was an ideal partner to take over programming of a series that in recent years had required outside financial contributions to remain afloat.

Tim BurtonConsulting curator Ian Birnie will leave the museum this fall after presenting a retrospective tied to the museum's upcoming show from director/artist Tim Burton (left). Programming curated by Film Independent will launch in September.

"The collaboration combines LACMA’s efforts in presenting film within an encyclopedic art historical context with Film Independent’s strong relationships with filmmakers and expertise in building audiences and developing programs for a wide spectrum of films," said the LACMA/FIND announcement.

LACMA announced plans to end its 41-year-old program of weekend screenings in the summer of 2009, but reversed course after a public outcry, statements from the likes of Martin Scorsese and contributions from the film industry.

"I find 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," wrote Scorsese in an open letter to LACMA printed in the Los Angeles Times in August, 2009.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Time Warner Cable each subsequently pledged $75,000 to keep the series running.

The new agreement with Film Independent also brings in the New York Times as the sole presenting sponsor of the new film series.

Upcoming film programs at the museum, according to the release, will include previews of feature-length narrative and documentary films; archival films and repertory series; conversations with emerging and established filmmakers and artists; international showcases; family films; and special guest-curated programs.

“Our goal," said LACMA CEO Michael Govan, "is to create a field-leading film department that captures the importance of film and moving images in the history of art, in keeping with LACMA’s curatorial mission.”

(Photo by Zade Rosenthal/courtesy of LACMA)