Filmex Board to Consider Canceling 1986 Festival

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles International Film Exposition, normally held in March or April, may be canceled this year and placed in limbo until completion of the American Cinematheque sometime in 1987, it was learned Monday.

Jerry Weintraub, who took over as chairman of the Filmex board of trustees last summer, said the board will meet today to discuss the possibility of a merger with either the American Cinematheque or the American Film Institute.

Weintraub said he will also urge the board to consider postponing the 15-year-old festival, at least for one year.

"With the DGA (Directors Guild of America) celebrating its 50th anniversary, the AFI tribute to Billy Wilder and the fund raising going on for the American Cinematheque, it might be best to postpone it for a while," Weintraub said.

Filmex, which has been plagued throughout much of its history with budgetary problems, was $270,000 in debt when Weintraub, a film producer ("The Karate Kid") and one of the film industry's most reliable fund-raisers, agreed to take the job of chairman.

Weintraub said Monday that he has reduced the debt but acknowledged that, since taking over last November as head of the new United Artists Pictures (which is to be spun off from MGM/UA when Ted Turner's buy-out is completed), he has been too busy to devote much time to the film festival.

"If they (the board) have time (to do the festival this year), great, but I don't," Weintraub said.

Asked if he was considering withdrawing as Filmex Chairman, Weintraub said: "I don't withdraw from anything. That doesn't mean they won't ask me."

Filmex Executive Director Suzanne McCormick said no dates had been set for Filmex '86.

Gary Essert, founder and former director of Filmex and now artistic director of American Cinematheque, said he would welcome Filmex at the Cinematheque, a cultural center dedicated to film and video and patterned after the famous French Cinematheque.

"We had talked about hosting Filmex at the Cinematheque all along," Essert said. "It would make a lot of sense to combine the organizations and work together."

AFI officials could not be reached for comment.

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