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Ian Birnie takes the high road on LACMA film controversy

September 10, 2009 |  3:30 pm


Ian Birnie has some nice and not-so-nice things to say about the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

The former head of the museum's film department says his relationship with his boss, Michael Govan -- LACMA's director -- was distant verging on nonexistent prior to the controversy over the museum's planned closing of its long-running weekend screening series

But Birnie, who was recently demoted to a non-staff position at the museum, says that he is trying to remain upbeat about things: "I don't want to play sour grapes."

In an interview with Calendar, Birnie was in generally good spirits as he reflected on the uncertain fate of LACMA's film department. In July, the museum said it would be ending its 40-year-old weekend film program in the fall. In August, donors stepped in to give the series a stay of execution through June 2010. 

But Birnie's position remains as precarious as ever. On Saturday, he officially assumed his new title as a "consulting curator" for the film department -- a non-staff contract position that carries little to no job security.

You can read our entire interview with Birnie here.

-- David Ng

Photo: Ian Birnie, with a poster of actor Charles Boyer. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times 

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