save film at lacma

Since July 28th when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art first announced that it would end its 4-decades-old film program in mid-October because of $1 million in losses over the last 10 years, an online protest has been growing. There are now over 2,100 signers of an online petition (including top-level movie critics, artists, dignitaries, and film-lovers from around the world), an active and vocal Facebook group, Twitter feeds, a Youtube video (search save film at lacma) and an email writing campaign. Marty Scorsese jumped into the fray with an open letter to LACMA director Michael Govan and the museum. Now the protest group http://savefilmatlacma.blogspot.com/ save2 film at lacmahas confirmed it will meet with Govan on September 1st. “This so-called “popcorn summit” has as its stated goals to convey the critical importance of the LACMA film program for our community; help find ways to reinstate and enhance the museum’s commitment to film; and present Michael Govan with our petition,” the grassroots organization says. “The meeting location is still unconfirmed. Present at the meeting will be film scholars, movie critics, film lovers and others deeply affected by the museum’s decision. We are pleased Mr. Govan committed to this meeting.”

At the same time, SaveFilm@LACMA expresses puzzlement by LACMA’s lack of response to Scorsese’s passionate letter to preserve the film program and commit to film as an art form. (The director’s personal connection to LACMA stretches back almost 40 years to when he lived in LA during the 1970s and regularly attended the film series. It was during a 20th Century Fox retrospective at LACMA that he first became aware of the issue of color film fading and the urgent need for film preservation.) “We wonder about the meaning of LACMA’s silence. Given the outpouring of dismay over the cancellation, LACMA owes it to our community to engage in open, honest, civic dialogue. So far we’ve seen form letters and boilerplates filled with double-speak from LACMA — even on their so-called Discussion Forum. Damage control is not enough. We demand to know what the museum’s intentions are for the film program.” The museum is telling news outlets it plans to find potential donors to underwrite some future film program that will be curated like the museum’s other exhibits.

Also, in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the protest video: