Gary Abrahams (1944 - November 5, 1992), a co-founder of the Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) and a prominent figure in the local cinema scene, died on November 5, 1992, in a Los Angeles hospice. He was 48 and died of the complications of AIDS.
Abrahams also was a founder of American Cinematheque, like Filmex an organization devoted to the international motion picture community in which films are selected from often exotic locations around the world for screening locally. Over the years millions of people have seen hundreds of films at the two festivals.
A native of Cleveland and a graduate of the University of Arizona, Abrahams came to Los Angeles in the late 1960s and worked in development for Paramount Television and later as director of corporate relations and merchandising for Marble Arch Productions.
He and Gary Essert, his longtime companion, founded Filmex in 1971 and American Cinematheque in 1983.
Abrahams also was a producer of "The Movies," a four-hour history of the American film industry shown on ABC-TV in 1975.
Gary Essert, the founder and director of the Los Angeles International Film Festival and the founder and chief executive officer of the American Cinematheque, died on December 16, 1992, at his home in Los Angeles. He was 54 years old and his partner Gary Abrahams preceeded Gary Essert in death of only 1 month.
He died of AIDS, said Barbara Smith, the managing director of the Cinematheque.
In 1971, Mr. Essert founded Filmex, the Los Angeles International Film Exposition, with the help of such Hollywood figures as George Cukor. As the exposition's director, he developed it into the largest public film event in the world, screening several hundred movies each year. He left the organization after a dispute with the board in 1984 and founded the American Cinematheque, a sister organization to the Cinematheque Francaise and the British Film Institute. He served as its chief executive officer until his death.
Mr. Essert was born in Oakland, Calif. He served in the Navy from 1957-61 aboard the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, and was a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles. From 1967-69, he operated The Kaleidoscope, a multi-media dance and concert hall. In 1975, he produced "The Movies," a documentary for the Motion Picture Fund and ABC. An expert on the exhibition of motion pictures, Mr. Essert designed the screening facilities at the University of California at Los Angeles and at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles.
Gary Essert and Gary Abrahams are buried together at Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA, Plot: Lincoln Terrace, L-4518B.
A Passion for Films : Henri Langlois & the Cinematheque Francaise by Professor Richard Roud and Mr. François Truffaut
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press (June 17, 1999)
Amazon: A Passion for Films : Henri Langlois & the Cinematheque Francaise
"Richard Roud has brought to life a man as picturesque and as contradictory as a Dickens character... Thanks to Roud... a thick and well-kept-up curtain of mystery rises to reveal to us the founder of the Cinémathèque Française, a man who was both unassuming and extravagant, a fabulous man, an obsessed man, and man animated by an idée fixe, a haunted man." -- François Truffaut, from the Foreword
When Henri Langlois began collecting prints of films in the 1920s, most people -- even many in the film industry -- thought of movies as a cheap and disposable form of entertainment. Langlois recognized them as a priceless form of art and worthy of preservation. In 1935, he founded the Cinémathèque Française, the legendary film library and screening room in Paris which Jean Renoir described as "the church for movies" and Bernardo Bertolucci called "the best school of cinema in the world." Indeed, some of the world's most influential filmmakers -- including Godard, Resnais, Truffaut, Rivette, and Wenders -- learned their craft by watching the classic films Langlois devoted his life to saving from destruction and obscurity.
As Richard Roud reveals in this "affectionate, intriguing biography" (Times Literary Supplement), Langlois was a brilliant and temperamental man who could be, by turns, charming and maddening. Marvelously creative, Langlois was also so incredibly disorganized that, once the Cinémathèque became a government institution, he was dismissed as its director in 1968 by then Minister of Culture André Malraux, an action which caused Europe's eminent film personalities to protest in the street of Paris until he was reinstated. By the time of his death in 1977, Langlois's genius for rediscovering the cinema of the past (he championed the works of Abel Gance, Carl Dreyer, and Louis Feuillade when they were considered passé by his contemporaries and defended Howard Hawks against the disdain of American intellectuals) and his desire to share his discoveries with the world (at a time when other film archives refused to screen any of the films in their collection) had inspired a great and abiding love of cinema in a generation of filmgoers, leaving behind a legacy director Nicholas Ray considered "perhaps the most important individual effort ever accomplished in the history of the cinema."
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