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by Andy Lauer
August 26, 2009 8:40 AM
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LACMA's Film Program Safe (For Now)

Downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Peter Knegt.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which was recently forced to suspend its film program due to budget constraints, announced today that it has received gifts totalling $150,000 from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Time Warner Cable, in partnership with Ovation TV, to extend continuous film programming through next summer. In addition, Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV also made an in-kind contribution of over $1.5 million to market the film program across their multiple media platforms, both locally and nationally.

"In a tight budget year when many programs were reduced, we suspended the weekend film series in order to rebuild its foundations," LACMA Director Michael Govan said in a statment. "We've been incredibly impressed by the public outcry of support for film at LACMA, and thrilled that just a few weeks later, the first new sponsors have stepped forward. We're grateful to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Time Warner Cable, and Ovation TV, for expressing their tangible support for the art of film at LACMA, and we're very pleased that we can keep film rolling while we build for the future. Our goal is to create a field-leading film department that captures the ever-growing importance of film and moving images in the history of art."

The announcement that LACMA was suspending its film program, originally scheduled to terminate in October, was met with shock by many in the film community. "I find it profoundly disheartening to know that a vital outlet for the exhibition of what was once known as 'repertory cinema' has been cut off in L.A. of all places, the center of film production and the land of the movie-making itself," wrote Martin Scorsese in an open letter to the museum, calling their decision "a disservice to cinema, and to the public as well."

According to the press release, "LACMA's goals for its future film program include securing sustainable philanthropic support that provides a larger and more appropriate budget and affords more outreach and events to create broader awareness for the program overall. However, most importantly, the museum also intends to create a Film Department within the curatorial sphere of the museum that will be charged with critical thinking about the history and future of film as art as well as film's increasing importance in the larger narrative of art history."

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