After thousands of screenings and dozens of film-and-culture events—including the much-loved annual Everything Is Festival—L.A. film institution Cinefamily is shutting down in the wake of a sexual-misconduct scandal, which surfaced in August.
In light of the accusations, Hadrian Belove—Cinefamily co-founder, executive director and the creator of rental shop CineFile video—resigned from Cinefamily almost immediately this summer, as did Shadie Elnashai, a member of Cinefamily’s board of directors. Anonymous emails began circulating, detailing not only accounts of verbal harassment and other inappropriate behavior from Cinefamily’s executives against their staff, but also allegations of rape. In late August, the organization suspended all screenings and events to conduct a full investigation into the grave accusations. In the months following, the board found the “current operational, reputational and financial status” to be untenable.
“The damage caused to the organization by the conduct of some and the crippling debt now facing the Cinefamily are, in the Board’s view, irreparable,” reads a public statement from the organization. “While the Board recognizes that the decision to close the Cinefamily will disappoint many of our loyal members, we feel strongly that we have made the right decision.”
According to the statement, no former employees stepped forward to corroborate the email alleging rape, though the investigation did uncover a number of “serious concerns” regarding executive and staff behavior.
In addition to the shuttering of the Cinefamily’s screenings and festivals, the cinematheque’s board will also be dissolved. West Hollywood’s the Silent Movie Theater, which served as Cinefamily’s primary screening location and is owned independently of the nonprofit, will close for renovation and reopen, hopefully helping to fill the gap in thought-provoking and community-building screenings Cinefamily now creates in its closure.
“The decision also comes amid the very necessary and overdue conversation about sexual assault and harassment in our industry,” the statement from the board says. “As individuals, we applaud the difficult work of victims everywhere who have come forward and spoken up about misconduct, and we continue to hope that any person mistreated by anyone connected to the Cinefamily will seek help in reporting any such incidents to the appropriate authorities.”