The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Film Independent announced Wednesday morning that it was entering a partnership on a new film series that would begin in September; two years ago, LACMA nearly dismantled its 41-year-old film program until public outcry convinced the museum to reverse its decision.
Reached in London on Wednesday morning, LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan discussed the decision to collaborate with Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival. "I have known Film Independent for a long time," he said. "When we were trying to reconsider the film program, and in fact, the second year that we went back to the Hollywood Foreign Press for a grant, they suggested to us that we look at collaborations."
LACMA, said Govan, is a big believer in collaboration. "We are collaborating with the Getty on art projects and photography," he said. "We spoke with sort of every organization. Film Independent had a really nice fit for two reasons. They are very artist-centric because they support filmmakers. The idea of bringing contemporary filmmakers to help us with historic films is something that would be absolutely consistent with our art programs."
Just as LACMA does, he added, Film Independent sees "themselves as an educational organization," Govan said. "So they had a lot of energy, tremendous enthusiasm to work with us to raise money. So after talking with everybody, it seemed like a good fit."
Before Wednesday's announcement, LACMA and Film Independent partnered on an early screening last year of the Oscar-nominated drama "Winter's Bone."
"They bring a huge constituency," Govan said of the organization. "That's a constituency we have never had. And they bring an enormous expertise. We have been working on this for a while and then recently it came together that both boards were excited about going forward."
Govan had nothing but praise for Ian Birnie, who has worked at LACMA for the last 15 years, currently as consulting curator for the film department. Birnie will be leaving in September when the Film Independent era begins. LACMA and Film Independent will be hiring a new programmer for the film department.
"This is evolution, not revolution," Govan said.
-- Susan King
Photo: LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan. Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times