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Jonathan Gold, Benicio Del Toro, Spike Jonze, No Age at Cinefamily's Fantastic, Elastic 24-Hour Telethon 

Thursday, Dec 15 2011
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Cinefamily's Fantastic, Elastic 24-Hour Holiday Telethon, beginning at noon on Saturday and extending until the following day, was modeled after celebrity-studded televised fundraisers of yore, but even the theater's executive director, Hadrian Belove, admits the branding is something of a misnomer, since the show won't be televised. It will, however, stream live online at cinefamily.org/ fundraiser. "The Internet is the new television," Belove reminds.

With the temporary closure and scheduled rebranding of the Sunset 5, and the recent, drastic changes to the film program at LACMA, Cinefamily is a shining light on the new landscape of L.A. cinephilia.

The telethon's purpose is, first and foremost, to raise awareness and money for the theater, Belove and team's programming and their continued expansion. While the portion of Cinefamily's budget provided by donations has gone from 0 percent to 17 percent in 2011, Belove says, "We've still got a long way to go. If you really believe in this institution of repertory cinema, it's gonna require public support."

click to enlarge Elliott Gould
  • Elliott Gould

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The fundraiser's implications are not purely local: If he can pull off live-streaming the telethon and raise enough cash in the process, Belove hopes to "set up a little TV studio" in the theater in order to make live streaming a regular happening, thus delivering Cinefamily's impeccably curated events to a global audience.

The telethon lineup reflects the quality and diversity of Cinefamily's offerings. The show kicks off with a Spike Jonze career retrospective, hosted by Jonze himself. Other scheduled events as of press time include late-night performances by No Age and "ukulele ditties" from Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields; a lecture on food and film from the Weekly's own Jonathan Gold, as well as a Gold-curated lineup of food trucks out front; and the unofficial kickoff of Cinefamily's upcoming Kaneto Shindô retrospective, with a screening of the 99 year-old Japanese master's The Naked Island, introduced by "Shindô superfan" Benicio Del Toro.

"It shows your donations help us do big retrospectives of obscure Japanese directors," Belove says.

It all wraps up on Sunday with a tribute to Elliott Gould, with the actor in person for a clip show and substantive Q&A. "If Cinefamily was an actor in the '70s," Belove says, "it would be Elliott Gould."

While the full 24 hours of programming will be free and open to the public (the programming has been divided into four- to five-hour chunks, and Belove says they'll clear the theater briefly in between), the telethon will conclude at noon on Sunday with a members-only program of Jim Henson arcana presented by Cinefamily regular Michael Cera, followed by a lunch for donors only, catered by the Foundry. (You can donate at Cinefamily.com, in person or via mail.)

Belove will add to the spectacle by attempting to host all 24 hours himself. How will he sustain himself through the night?

"I don't know, 5-Hour Energy drinks? Those things are pretty intense. It's only one night. I promised to host for 24 hours, not to stay awake."

CINEFAMILY'S FANTASTIC, ELASTIC 24-HOUR HOLIDAY TELETHON | Sat., Dec. 17-Sun., Dec. 18, noon-noon | Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre | cinefamily.org

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