About the ACF

The Cinema Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit, nonpartisan cultural organization, founded in 1994, doing business as the American Cinema Foundation. Its founding director was Cathy Siegel Weiss, an entertainment attorney active in philanthropy. Her prior professional background included serving as counsel for AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and assistant general counsel for Golden West Broadcasters. She wrote the mission statement:

“ACF was created to nurture and reward television and film projects that address fundamental social values in a positive manner, that support and strengthen the concepts of the common good and the common culture, and promote democratic pluralism and inclusion”.

—Cathy Siegel Weiss

Rob Long and Cathy Seipp
September 2006. Rob Long at the mike with the day’s honoree, the late Cathy Seipp, front and center. Background: business writer Luke Thompson; public relations wizard Allan Mayer, a pre-Breitbart.com Andrew Breitbart, (in blue jeans) and journalist and opinion writer Amy Stewart.

Board members of the American Cinema Foundation included Tom Selleck, screenwriters and directors Lionel Chetwynd and Bob Gale, television show runner Rob Long, senior VP of Showtime Networks Matthew Duda, Broadway and Hollywood producer Willette Klausner, former head of Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures Frank Price, and many other creators, artists and executives.

Gary McVey took over the organization at the beginning of 1997.

“I was the director of ACF for twenty years, including some of the best years of my life in film festivals. At the American Cinema Foundation, we had the staff, the funding and the facilities to make full note of the changing and historic times we were living through. Europe had just ended a 150-year long experiment with a particular form of socialism, and some of the world’s great filmmakers reacted to the results. ACF presented the Freedom Film Festival in Los Angeles and Washington, in Berlin and Moscow, in Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic. We presented the Andrzej Wajda Prize in Berlin for seven years. We gave other awards in Karlovy Vary, Belgrade, and here at home. At the Kennedy Center, we presented Cuban music by Juan-Carlos Formell, a restored pre-Castro documentary, PM, and works by the late Nestor Almendros.

More than any place I’ve ever worked, ACF brought me the chance to do television and technology events that made their modest marks in the timeline of history and progress. After the events of the first years of this century, the Cinema Foundation thrived on screenings and discussions that continued to bring new ideas to Hollywood. We were viewer-based, never a membership organization. We sold tickets and got articles written; that was the measure of our influence. I went to Turkey and the Baltics, and we introduced information about new forms of digital and 3D television when it was timely. With the onset of the Great Recession, arts groups including ACF had to adapt to tougher times. We always had the unique strengths of a relatively small, dedicated society of loyal friends who were also industry insiders. In the long run, alas, we also showed signs of the weakness of this form of organization: insularity.

After I turned sixty, reality gently nudged me to think about a transition. There were details to wrap up, and hundreds of books and videotapes to ship out to libraries.

At the end of 2016, Titus Techera became the executive director of the American Cinema Foundation. A cultural critic who studied in Berlin, at the University of Bucharest, and the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. Techera has assembled a geographically and intellectually diverse board of directors that have joined with his new directions for the ACF, including New York film critic Armond White, historian and essayist Richard Brookhiser, writer Flagg Taylor, and the new chairman of the American Cinema Foundation, Los Angeles attorney Aaron Gigliotti.

For years, one of our quotes was on the wall and website of Film Arsenal in Berlin. “The Movies Have a Memory”. That’s been our life’s work, for many of us. We say that knowing, of course, that the movie screen has no memory unless each of us chooses to give it one.”

—Gary McVey