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Tonight: Martin Scorsese speaks on film preservation at LACMA

January 20, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Getprev After months of public debate over the future of LACMA's film program, museum director Michael Govan and filmmaker Martin Scorsese will join together this evening (Jan. 20) for a public conversation about the role of film at museums.

The discussion, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. in LACMA's Bing Theater and costs $10 for LACMA members and $12 for the general public, will also touch on the topic of film preservation.

It's an issue that's important to Scorsese, who accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday. When asked by a reporter backstage at the award show what he would do if he could not continue making films, Scorsese replied: "I would continue working in film preservation and teaching."

Back in August, he wrote an impassioned open letter published in The Times urging LACMA to keep the film program running.

"The film department is often held at arms’ length at LACMA and other institutions, separate from the fine arts, and this simply should not be," Scorsese wrote. "Film departments should be accorded the same respect, and the same amount of financial leeway, as any other department of fine arts. To do otherwise is a disservice to cinema, and to the public as well."

That letter prompted the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to donate $75,000 to save the film program, and Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV donated an additional $75,000 that will allow the program to run until the end of June.

It seems Govan and Scorsese have made peace since the filmmaker spoke out: The museum director traveled to Scorsese's home last summer to discuss how the two could locate potential donors in Hollywood.

Presumably, the two will also be discussing further plans for the program -- and Govan's intentions to increase the program's annual budget by about $150,000 and raise a $5-million endowment -- this evening. 

For a full report on the discussion, check back with 24 Frames.

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Martin Scorsese. Credit Peter Kramer/Associated Press