LACMA Film Program Buttressed

By Tom Christie

As rumored, LACMA has received two grants of $75,000 apiece from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and from Ovation TV to prop up the museum's beleaguered film program - and hopefully kick off a new round of community support. Ovation, along with Time-Warner, also pledged an additional $1.5 million to market the program through their various media outlets.

A museum spokesperson said the money wasn't "enough in an ultimate sense but will keep the wheels on the bus for the time being." LACMA's carefully worded press release lays out the museum's hopes for the film program, and is in effect an answer to its critics of late:

"LACMA's goals for its future film program include securing sustainable philanthropic support that provides a larger and more appropriate budget and affords more outreach and events to create broader awareness for the program overall. However, most importantly, the museum also intends to create a Film Department within the curatorial sphere of the museum that will be charged with critical thinking about the history and future of film as art as well as film's increasing importance in the larger narrative of art history."

In other words, it's not going away, it's going to be different, and

it might - just might - be a bigger, better art-museum film program.

The question, as always, is how to pay for it. And while the announced

grants are nice, it's telling that they came from an artsy TV network

and a group of foreign journalists no doubt justifiably horrified at

the possibility of not getting a regular dose of Eric Rohmer and Alain

Resnais, et al. Not a penny, so far, from the vastly resourced

Hollywood film community itself - studios, executives, actors,

directors, any number of whom could stick their hand into one pocket

and, with a little change found there gathering lint, create an

endowment for LACMA's film program. George Lucas gave $175 million to

USC, Robert Zemeckis $5 million; various others a total of $50 million.

Maybe LACMA needs a football team.


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