Cinefamily Shuts Down Following Sexual Harassment Scandal
"The damage caused by the conduct of some and the crippling debt now facing Cinefamily are irreparable," says the indie cinema's board of directors.
For a decade, Cinefamily has served as a gathering spot for Los Angeles film aficionados whose tastes run toward the esoteric. But in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal this summer which in many ways presaged a storm that would soon engulf Hollywood, the non-profit repertory cinema has decided to cease all operations.
In a statement posted Tuesday to its website, the organization's board of directors announced that "exhaustive analysis" has led to a decision to "officially shut down The Cinefamily."
Cinefamily operations were suspended in August after two top executives — executive creative director Hadrian Belove and board of directors vp Shadie Elnashai — resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.
The allegations first surfaced in a pair of anonymous emails sent to Cinefamily members which detailed a 2014 lawsuit against Belove that ended in a settlement. The emails also accused Elnashai of "raping multiple women."
Amid the ensuing uproar, troubling stories emerged. One former volunteer coordinator said Belove told her she "needed to be hiring cute young girls that he would want to fuck" and that he "would grumble if I hired someone that he found unattractive." Another former director of operations said Belove instructed him to fire employees who were not "attractive enough." A Cinefamily volunteer said she witnessed Belove receiving oral sex from another volunteer.
Belove has denied the claims, saying in a statement, "I did not seek to hire employees because I wanted to date them, or fire employees because of their appearance. I made personnel decisions while acting in the best interests of Cinefamily, which was my top priority.”
Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson — a Cinefamily supporter who founded the group Women of Cinefamily in 2014 — said in a statement posted to Twitter that she found the allegations "upsetting to me personally, both as an advocate for sexual assault survivors and a member of the community," and that was she cutting all ties to the organization.
In its statement on Tuesday, the board shared its conclusion that "the damage caused ... by the conduct of some and the crippling debt now facing Cinefamily are ... irreparable." The theater's home, the 75-year-old Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Avenue, will close and undergo a renovation financed by its current landlord.
In its place, the Cinefamily hopes "a new organization will emerge that reflects the positive spirit of the film community" and possibly fill that space.