After two top employees of Los Angeles independent film venue the Cinefamily resigned on Tuesday, actress Brie Larson posted a response to allegations of sexual harassment that led to their departure.
Larson co-founded the Women of Cinefamily support group with Tina Poppy and Alia Penner. Poppy previously left the organization, and both Larson and Penner intend to step aside from their involvement with the group in the future, according to Indiewire.
Cinefamily co-founder and executive director Hadrian Belove and Shadie Elnashai, vice president of the board of directors, stepped down “in light of recent events,” a Cinefamily statement read.
The recent events referred to an anonymous email that was sent to many Cinefamily members on Monday. The email referenced a 2014 harassment case against Belove that ended in a settlement. The anonymous missive also accused Elnashai of “raping multiple women.”
Larson spoke out on Twitter, saying “The allegations at Cinefamily are upsetting to me personally, both as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a member of the community. Firstly, I would like to thank the brave survivors who spoke up — I believe you. The responsibility of handling allegations of this nature should never fall on the assaulted. Cinefamily prides itself on being a space of safety and communion — it is time for further action to ensure that.”
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Belove founded the Cinefamily in 2007 in the former Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax Ave., programming unusual and rare films with Q&As and other special events. Among the entertainment figures who have supported the theater and its programming are Robert Downey Jr., David Lynch, Mark Duplass, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
After his resignation, Belove denied the accusations in a statement. “I reject the accusations wholesale,” he said, adding, “I want to acknowledge that I had created enough of an atmosphere to allow this kind of vitriol to fester.”
His statement charges that he has evidence that “This is part of an ongoing and aggressive campaign from a disgruntled ex-employee, who has been consistently revealing himself to have an malevolent agenda.”
Several former Cinefamily employees and volunteers have commented that they agree with many of the accusations that have come to light, however, it’s not clear from the anonymous email who has accused Elnashai of rape.
Former Cinefamily employee Melanie Ghaffari told Variety, “What I do know is that these men would not have resigned, and would have continued facilitating a space of complete disarray and potential danger, entirely normalizing and trivializing sexual assault and abuse had this email not been sent out.”
UPDATE: As of Dec. 12, the sender of the email was never identified. Elnashai responded to the charge made in the email as follows: “I have never committed and would never commit the criminal acts that were described. Cinefamily’s statement confirmed that their investigation found no evidence. No woman has ever accused me of anything of that nature. No such attack ever occurred.” His full statement can be read here.