The American Cinematheque is an independent, non-profit cultural organization in Los Angeles dedicated exclusively to the public presentation of the Moving Image in all its forms. It is considered among the premier organizations of its kind in America.
The Cinematheque was created in 1981 as an offshoot of the annual Filmex Los Angeles Film Festival which ran every year 1971–1983. After five years of fund-raising and planning, the Cinematheque launched its first series of screenings in 1987. It presents festivals and retrospectives that screen the best of worldwide cinema, video and television from the past and present - ranging from the classics to the outer frontiers of the art form. In addition to presenting and celebrating all aspects of the Moving Picture on the big screen - the Cinematheque also provides a forum where film-lovers and students can hear the world's leading filmmakers, actors, writers, editors, cinematographers and others discussing their work and craft.
The Cinematheque's two movie theatres
Between 1987 and 1998, the Cinematheque presented its programs at a variety of venues including the Directors Guild of America theater and the Raleigh Studios complex in Hollywood. In 1998 it opened its own permanent home in Hollywood - and in 2004 added a second theater in Santa Monica. It now presents festivals, retrospectives and assorted programs at these two theaters.
Grauman's Egyptian Theatre is the fabled Hollywood movie palace built in 1922 by legendary showman Sid Grauman (four years prior to opening his equally famous Chinese Theatre.) It was the location of Hollywood's first-ever movie premiere in 1922. In 1998 the American Cinematheque completed a major $12.8 million renovation that restored the theatre's exterior to its original glory - and added new film, video and audio technology. The Cinematheque has been presenting its programs there since December 1998.
Since its re-opening it has become a frequent choice for premieres and events in Hollywood. And it is the primary home for the Cinematheque's acclaimed year-round program of film, video & television festivals and retrospectives.
The Aero Theatre in Santa Monica is a 1940 landmark movie theatre that has also been renovated by the Cinametheque and it has been functioning as the organization's second theater, serving the Westside of Los Angeles, since 2004.
Among the Cinematheque's many recurrent annual festivals it has become well known for presenting the Mods & Rockers Festival of rock-culture films first presented in 1999. The 2006 festival was a six-week retrospective that the Los Angeles Times noted was the largest-ever festival of rock-music films presented in the USA.
In addition to its year-round programs of film festivals and retrospectives, the organization presents the prestigious American Cinematheque Award annually to a filmmaker in recognition of contributions to the art form. In the 20 years since the award's inception many major filmmakers have been honored including directors such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and Rob Reiner and actors including Sean Connery, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, Nicolas Cage, Steve Martin, Al Pacino, George Clooney, Samuel L. Jackson, Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, and Julia Roberts. In recent years the gala evening presentations have been videotaped and aired as TV specials in the US by the TNT and AMC cable television networks and in 2010 (Matt Damon) by ABC.
Since 1994 the television special has been produced by Paul Flattery and the directors have included Spike Jonze Jr., Bruce Gowers, and Michael Dempsey.
American Cinematheque's distribution arm was set up in 1999, as Vitagraph Films.
Participation by industry leaders
The organization is governed by a Board Of Directors and a Board of Trustees. The two Boards include many prominent leaders in the entertainment industry including film directors and producers such as Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, Mike Nichols, Francis Coppola, William Friedkin, Melvin Van Peebles, Brian Grazer, Joe Dante, Paula Wagner, and Steve Tisch. Other prominent Board members include: actors Candice Bergen and Goldie Hawn; studio chief Mike Medavoy; journalist Peter Bart (editor-in-chief of Variety); and talent agent Rick Nicita (Co-Chairman of Creative Artists Agency).