In a firm letter to Michael Govan, head of the Los Angeles Musuem of Art, published in the Los Angeles Times, acclaimed Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese takes LACMA’s decision to "retool" their film programs to task:
I am deeply disturbed by the recent decision to suspend the majority of film screenings at LACMA. For those of us who love cinema and believe in its value as an art form, this news hits hard…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.
Scorsese, who has joined directors John Landis, Alexander Payne and others, goes to articulate what thousand in Los Angeles and elsewhere have let LACMA know via letters and petitions:
I am puzzled by the notion of pegging future film programming to “artist-created films,” as stated in the letter announcing this shift – to do this would be tantamount to downgrading the worth of cinema. Aren’t the best films made by artists in the first place?
Without places like LACMA and other museums, archives, and festivals where people can still see a wide variety of films projected on screen with an audience, what do we lose? We lose what makes the movies so powerful and such a pervasive cultural influence. If this is not valued in Hollywood, what does that say about the future of the art form? Aren’t museums serving a cultural purpose beyond appealing to the largest possible audience?…
I know that my life and work have been enriched by places like LACMA and MoMA whose public screening programs enabled me to see films that would never have appeared at my local movie theater, and that lose a considerable amount of their power and beauty on smaller screens. I believe that LACMA is taking an unfortunate course of action.
On September 1, the Save Film at LACMA group will be meeting with Michael Govan, who has yet to respond to Scorsese’s letter; the LACMA head is on vacation.