Orgs will jointly hire new programmer as Birnie exits

In an effort to revitalize the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s struggling film program, the museum will partner with Film Independent on a new film series to begin in September.

While LACMA will continue to program events such as the Tuesday matinee series and film programs related to special exhibitions, such as the Stanley Kubrick exhibit set for 2012, the Film Independent collaboration will be the backbone of its nighttime screening program.

“The main thing was that they provided us a great reach in the film community,” said LACMA director Michael Govan, “I love that they’re artist-centric.”

In 2009, LACMA announced it would eliminate its screening program, only to be faced with an outcry from cineastes, including Martin Scorsese.

In response, it raised money from sources including the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to enable the program to continue until a long-term solution was found. Govan said LACMA had spoken to other film groups, but that Film Independent offered the best chances for collaboration.

Strong relationships with corporate sponsors are a strength of Film Independent’s centerpiece events, the Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival. The New York Times will be the sole sponsor of the LACMA/Film Independent Film Series.

Building on Film Independent’s relationships with filmmakers, the program at LACMA will include previews of narrative and docu features; archival films and repertory series; conversations with filmmakers and guest-curated programs as well as monthly post-screening receptions.

Longtime film programmer Ian Birnie will depart LACMA in the fall after launching the summer’s Tim Burton retrospective, which opens May 29. Govan said LACMA and Film Independent will hire a new programmer to focus on the screening series. “We are enormously grateful to Ian for his substantial contribution to LACMA’s film program over the last 15 years,” said Govan. “His commitment, discerning vision and hard work have been invaluable.”

“We wanted to strengthen the series, not compete with what other presenters are doing, which is why Film Independent is a natural choice,” said former WB topper Terry Semel, co-chair of LACMA’s board of trustees.

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