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Cinefamily at Night.jpg
Outside the Cinefamily, Night
OpenedOctober 31, 2007; 15 years ago (2007-10-31)
ClosedNovember 15, 2017; 5 years ago (2017-11-15)
Years active2007–2017

The Cinefamily was a non-profit cinematheque located in West Hollywood, California, at the historic Silent Movie Theatre.[3] The Cinefamily's mission statement was to "reinvigorate the movie-going experience by fostering a spirit of community and a sense of discovery."[4]

Cinefamily followed a member-based ticketing system by which a tax-deductible donation provided universal access to all screenings and events. There was an individual ticket system in effect for non-members or those who did not make a pledge commitment.[5]

The Cinefamily was open from 2007 to 2017, when it closed due to a sexual harassment allegation. In 2019, the theatre was reopened as Fairfax Cinema. The next year, clothing company Brain Dead announced that they would be leasing the space under the name Brain Dead Studios.


In 2007, Hadrian Belove (co-founder of Cinefile Video,[6] a specialty video store), along with Sammy Harkham (co-owner of the nearby Family Bookstore)[7] and his brother Dan, founded the Cinefamily, which officially opened its doors on Halloween of 2007.[8]


Kliph Nesteroff (left) in conversation with Mel Brooks in 2014

Cinefamily programming included a range of films, from early silents to contemporary features,[9] live comedy, live music, found footage, mixed media and other special events, and extended form post-screening Q&As.[7] They mounted original retrospectives on filmmakers Jim Henson, Jerry Lewis,[10] John Cassavetes,[11] and Andrzej Zulawski[12] and commissioned live film scores by musicians such as No Age,[13] Stephin Merritt[14] and Espers.[15]

Some of Cinefamily’s programming included Animation Breakdown,[16] Don’t Knock the Rock,[17] Everything is Festival!,[18] reunion tributes for The Adventures of Pete and Pete[19] and Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast,[20] and women-only pajama party screenings.[21]

In early 2011, the Cinefamily exhibited the Greek independent film Dogtooth, which received an Academy Award nomination within a month of its sold-out run.[22] The Cinefamily also held special screenings of We Need to Talk About Kevin,[23] Margaret,[24] Bullhead,[25] Michael[26] and Battle Royale.[27]

Starting in 2011, Cinefamily held an annual 24-hour holiday telethon. Robert Downey Jr. made an appearance at the second annual event, where he pledged to donate to the theatre's upgrade fundraiser.[28] About $144,000 was raised for the theatre to install digital projection and make restorations.[29] In 2014, Downey and his father, Robert Downey Sr., made appearances in a retrospective for the latter to help raise funds for the theatre,[30] in place of the telethon.

As early as December 2012, artist collective Everything Is Terrible! held events at the theatre.[31] In October 2014, the collective exhibited its full collection of over 7,000 Jerry Maguire VHS tapes in the formation of the "Jerry Throne".[32][33]

Starting in 2013, the theatre hosted SpectreFest from SpectreVision, an indie horror film company co-founded by Elijah Wood.[34] Also that year, Quentin Tarantino hosted a screening of Robert Blake films,[35] and a retrospective of Kris Kristofferson films was screened, with appearances from Kristofferson,[36] who played music with Harry Dean Stanton at one event.[37]

In 2014, Mel Brooks presented the 1973 compilation film of Your Show of Shows[38] and Werner Herzog made an appearance at the beginning of a weeklong run of his 1979 film Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht.[39] In 2015, Cinefamily worked with SpectreVision and Cinelicious Pics to restore the 1973 animated Japanese film Belladonna of Sadness.[40]

In 2016, the theatre held an X-Files marathon with a live episode of Kumail Nanjiani's podcast The X-Files Files.[41]

Sexual misconduct allegations[edit]

In August 2017, an anonymous email was sent to Cinefamily members detailing a 2014 sexual harassment allegation against Belove that resulted in a settlement and accused Shadie Elnashai, vice president of the board of directors, of "raping multiple women."[42] Both men subsequently resigned on August 22, 2017.[43] On August 23, Women of Cinefamily co-founder Brie Larson announced that she was stepping aside from the organization for the foreseeable future.[44] Cinefamily itself suspended all operations as of August 26.[43] A number of former volunteers and employees subsequently alleged that an atmosphere of sexism against women had long permeated the theatre, including alleged abuses by Belove and Elnashai.[45][46]

On November 14, 2017, Cinefamily altered its website so that only a text statement appeared. The board of directors formally announced the end of the organization, following an independent inquiry into the allegations.[47] By January 2018, a website was launched by a former Cinefamily member with self-proclaimed expertise in "economic and workplace justice" to continue investigating alleged wrongdoing by the theatre;[48][49] this led to the discovery of apparent financial misdeeds.[50] In late 2018, Elnashai released a statement on his personal website. He admitted that he had once acted inappropriately at a Cinefamily party, but denied all other charges, citing an alleged lack of evidence produced by the investigation.[51]


On December 25, 2019, following a year-long refurbishment project, Dan and Sammy Harkham reopened the theatre under the name Fairfax Cinema.[2] On October 6, 2020, clothing company Brain Dead announced that they would be leasing the space. Rebranding the theater as Brain Dead Studios, the venue focuses on cult cinema fare and offers an outdoor cafe specializing in Asian cuisine.[52][53] In an interview, Brain Dead co-founder Kyle Ng, who was a Cinefamily member, acknowledged the former cinematheque's sexual harassment scandal and stated:

I think it's still important to show to the community that we can't just stop art due to some shitty people. We have to move forward and show a better example. So what we want to do is not just cater to the old White male demographic of cinephiles. We want to basically open it to a new generation while also catering to film heads from before. But the main thing is to introduce new people to film, showcase people who follow our brand but maybe don't know about it, and create a new culture around cinema.


My vision is like, Hey, if we see an issue, we got to act upon it and make it better. How do we create this community and make it better? How do we make it more inviting to women, to different sexualities, to different ways of life, and make it better? That's what we've always done with whatever we can. There's no one involved in the programming, or management of the theater, that were previously a part of Cinefamily.[52]


  1. ^ "Brain Dead Studios in Los Angeles, CA". Cinema Treasures. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Pener, Degen (December 18, 2019). "L.A.'s Former Cinefamily Theater to Open as Fairfax Cinema (First Look)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 28, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  3. ^ Rauzi, Robin (June 13, 2006). "Not just the silent treatment on Fairfax" – via LA Times.
  4. ^ "About". Archived from the original on August 12, 2015. Retrieved August 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Membership - The Cinefamily". Archived from the original on May 1, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  6. ^ Bregman, Adam (October 16, 2003). "Obscure? Not here" – via LA Times.
  7. ^ a b Foundas, Scott (October 24, 2007). "Come Back Into the Dark".
  8. ^ Saperstein, Pat (August 24, 2017). "Brie Larson Speaks Out on 'Upsetting' Cinefamily Sexual Harassment Allegations".
  9. ^ Longworth, Karina (May 20, 2010). "Hadrian Belove: Pathologically Idiosyncratic Programming".
  10. ^ Ehrenstein, David (June 3, 2009). "Jerry Lewis Retrospective at Cinefamily".
  11. ^ Longworth, Karina (March 3, 2011). "John Cassavetes Series at Cinefamily".
  12. ^ "The Unbelievable Genius of Andrzej Zulawski – Page 1 – Film+TV – Los Angeles – LA Weekly". Archived from the original on June 16, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  13. ^ Age, No (August 19, 2009). "NO AGE - NO MORE R&R: Live Score of "The Bear" at The Cinefamily at The Silent Movie Theater".
  14. ^ Gladysz, Thomas (July 8, 2010). "Six Questions With Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields". HuffPost.
  15. ^ Turner, Gustavo (February 4, 2010). "Cinefamily to Screen Amazing Cult Films From the Silver Lake of the Soviet Era". Archived from the original on January 27, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  16. ^ "Around Town: Don Hertzfeldt kicks off Cinefamily's 'Animation Breakdown'". December 2, 2011.
  17. ^ "Don't Knock the Rock: Films for the vinyl crowd". July 12, 2011.
  18. ^ "Around town: Strange delights at Cinefamily's Everything Is Festival". June 30, 2011.
  19. ^ Bradley, Paul T. (November 21, 2011). "The Adventures of Pete and Pete Reunion at Cinefamily: Mike Maronna, Danny Tamberelli & Artie...the Strongest the World". Archived from the original on February 28, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  20. ^ Whalen, Brendan (December 5, 2011). "Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast Reunion at Cinefamily, With Actors and Animators From Cartoon Network's Superhero Talk Show". Archived from the original on April 11, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  21. ^ "No Boys Allowed: Cinefamily's All Girl Pajama Party". L.A. Weekly.
  22. ^ Longworth, Karina (February 3, 2011). "State of the Art House".
  23. ^ Longworth, Karina (December 8, 2011). "We Need to Talk About Kevin Review".
  24. ^ Longworth, Karina (January 11, 2012). "Margaret Starring Anna Paquin, the Best Film of 2011, Gets a Run at Cinefamily". Archived from the original on July 25, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  25. ^ "Oscars 2012: Watch an exclusive clip from Belgium's 'Bullhead'". February 17, 2012.
  26. ^ Anderson, Melissa (February 16, 2012). "Oscar-Nominated Bullhead and Michael at Cinefamily".
  27. ^ "Around Town: 'Battle Royale' finally gets U.S. theatrical release". December 23, 2011.
  28. ^ Collis, Clark (December 16, 2012). "'Cinefamily Telethon:' Robert Downey Jr. pledges to help L.A. cinema". Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  29. ^ Woodard, Sean (June 14, 2013). "'Singin' in the Rain': Cinefamily Debuts New Projector Los Angeles Magazine". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  30. ^ "Cinefamily Pays Tribute To Outsider Filmmaker Robert Downey Sr. At Their Annual Fundraiser". LAist. December 6, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  31. ^ Gallegos, Emma G. (December 22, 2012). "Get Out: 'Everything Is Terrible' at Cinefamily, Punk Christmas & More". LAist. Archived from the original on October 27, 2021. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  32. ^ Prescott, Julia (October 7, 2014). "We Saw the World's First Throne Made Out of 'Jerry Maguire' VHS Tapes". Vice. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  33. ^ "Everything Is Terrible!". The Jerry Maguire Pyramid Project. Archived from the original on December 14, 2016. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  34. ^ Collis, Clark (October 9, 2013). "Elijah Wood's SpectreVision announces L.A. horror film festival". Archived from the original on October 13, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  35. ^ "Quentin Tarantino presents The Films of Robert Blake, Day 1". DoLA. 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  36. ^ King, Susan (October 27, 2013). "Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theatre celebrates Kris Kristofferson". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 28, 2015. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  37. ^ Ziegler, Chris (November 1, 2013). "Kris Kristofferson: Say It Like a Prayer (Interview)". L.A. Record. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  38. ^ Evanier, Mark (April 6, 2014). "My Evening of Evenings". News From ME. Archived from the original on October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  39. ^ Olsen, Mark (May 16, 2014). "Re-release of Werner Herzog's 'Nosferatu': 'It's not a remake'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  40. ^ "Cinelicious Pics, SpectreVision, and The Cinefamily Team To Present 4K Restoration of Japanese Anime Feature Belladonna of Sadness (1973)". Anime News Network. August 25, 2015. Archived from the original on August 26, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2021.
  41. ^ "The Cinefamily presents The X-Files: Live Podcast and Marathon with sneak preview of new X-Files episode". myNewYorkeye. January 14, 2016. Archived from the original on October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  42. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 23, 2017). "Two top Cinefamily leaders resign over anonymous allegations of sexual misconduct". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  43. ^ a b Kelley, Seth (August 27, 2017). "Cinefamily Suspends All Activities Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations". Variety. Archived from the original on August 28, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  44. ^ Kohn, Eric (August 23, 2017). "Brie Larson, Women of Cinefamily Co-Founder, Calls for 'Further Action' on Sexual Harassment Charges". Indiewire. Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
  45. ^ Lange, Ariane (August 28, 2017). "Former Employees Of A Beloved LA Movie Theater Describe Sexism In The Workplace". Buzzfeed News. Archived from the original on August 29, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  46. ^ Cills, Hazel (August 31, 2017). "Former Cinefamily Employees Allege Mishandling of Sexual Harassment Claims". Jezebel. Archived from the original on September 2, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2021.
  47. ^ Ramos, Dino-Ray (November 15, 2017). "Cinefamily Permanently Shuts Down After Sexual Harassment Allegations".
  48. ^ Zerolnick, Jon (January 3, 2018). "News of Cinefamily's Death Greatly Exaggerated (By Cinefamily)". Cinefamily Accountability. Archived from the original on October 28, 2021. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  49. ^ "About me". Cinefamily Accountability. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  50. ^ "Finances". Cinefamily Accountability. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  51. ^ "Shadie Elnashai Statement".
  52. ^ a b Takanashi, Lei (November 5, 2020). "Why Streetwear Brand Brain Dead Is Permanently Taking Over an L.A. Movie Theater". Complex. Complex Media, Inc. Archived from the original on November 5, 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  53. ^ "Slammers". Brain Dead Studios. BRAIN DEAD LLC.

External links[edit]

  • Footage from an event with rock band AFI at Brain Dead Studios – via Instagram. October 1, 2021.