I feel as though I have been holding my breath for the past fortnight after first hearing of the impending fate of the LACMA's film department. Michael Govan, director and CEO (if you are not already aware), announced plans on July 28th to cease and desist the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's forty-one year old film program. With recent ventures such as Cinefamily and the Billy Wilder theater at the Hammer Museum, it is high time for the LA film community to develop and flourish. While volunteering at the LA film festival this summer, my conversations with the people I met and worked with always ran back to how disconnected and disjointed they felt from the community, despite promising resources and an endless history at their fingertips.
I am, in ways, glad Govan has caused such a stir. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but I feel that truly good things will come from this (based on my gut feeling that the film program will somehow survive). I owe many many thanks to LACMA for first exposing me to the love of my life, François Truffaut, at the tender age of thirteen, and for visiting years later to see one of my very favorite Lubitsch films, Cluny Brown (which I caught again on the big screen this spring in Brooklyn). What I love dearly about cinema is the feeling of possibility that travels down my spine as the curtains tear open, the lights dim, and the projector clicks to life. It is not just coincidence that the film department was created in 1968, the same year Langlois was removed from the Cinématheque by Malraux. The petitions, letters, and groups heralding together are not merely trying to save a film department from being axed- this effort goes to the deeper issue of trying to preserve the legacy of film spectatorship itself.