Scorsese, Govan will discuss film’s role in museums at LACMA

The ongoing debate over the future of the weekend film program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will get a boost -- not to mention publicity -- when Martin Scorsese appears at the museum next month.

Scorsese is scheduled to speak at LACMA’s Bing Theater at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20. The Oscar-winning filmmaker will share the stage with Michael Govan, the director of LACMA, in what is being billed as a public conversation about the role of film at museums.

“His discussion with Govan will touch on the importance of film preservation and the key role that film should play in a museum or cultural institution,” said the museum in a statement.

The event is open to the public. Tickets cost $10 for LACMA members and $12 for the general public.


In August, Scorsese wrote an open letter to LACMA that was published in The Times in which the film director criticized the museum for its plans to shutter its weekend film program. The screenings, which feature retrospectives of prominent Hollywood and international auteurs, have been a staple of the city’s cinephile community for close to 40 years.

Scorsese’s letter received a large amount of reader feedback. It also prompted the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. to donate $75,000 to save the film program. That, plus an additional $75,000 from Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV, has extended the life of the program to the end of June.

In September, Govan said he was looking to raise money to launch an expanded film program. He said he would like to increase the program’s annual budget to $500,000 from its current level of about $350,000. He also said he was looking to raise an endowment for the film program of at least $5 million.

Govan said he met over the summer with Scorsese in New York at the home of the filmmaker, who offered to help the museum find potential donors in the movie industry.


The Sunday before Scorsese is scheduled to speak at LACMA, he will accept the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony in L.A. The Golden Globes are organized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn.

One of the key agitators in the LACMA film debate has been Save Film at LACMA, a loose coalition of film buffs and scholars that organized an online petition to save the program. “Given his unique stature as a commercially successful artist,” the group said of Scorsese in an e-mail statement, “his continuing advocacy is sure to advance the cause of film at the museum.”