• About the American Cinema Foundation
  • Film Festivals and Awards
  • Filmex
  • Writing on Media
  • Andrezej Wajda Prize

Gary McVey

Gary McVey, former ACF Executive DirectorI'm a former New Yorker, a graduate of the New York University film school. I learned the craft of curating at Filmex, the original and legendary Los Angeles film festival, and became a founding co-director of its successor, AFI FEST – the American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival in 1987.

Video and information technology transformed media in the Eighties and Nineties, and our festival was often the occasion of public introduction of new ideas. Intersections of art, technology, and history have been the subjects of most of my writing.

The AFI festival held Los Angeles’ first citywide annual Latino, Independent, and Hong Kong film weeks, as well as reviving long-popular L.A. traditions like the all-night movie marathon. Europe was concluding a 140-year experiment with a particular form of socialism, and some of the world’s great filmmakers reacted to the results and their aftermath.

Gary McVey on KCET for AFI Fest 1995

The Movies Have a Memory

If you and I have met, it was probably at a film event, in my country or yours. For more than thirty years, I served on film juries and panels in Ireland, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, the Czech Republic, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Romania, Turkey and Lithuania.

I took the helm of the American Cinema Foundation in 1997, introducing programs that re-examined moments and movements in film and television history, including public television. We conducted screenings and events for all sorts of fictional and documentary work on screen. Our major interest was the fictional depiction of world current events as well as major turning points of the twentieth century.

ACF presented the Freedom Film Festival in Los Angeles, Washington, Berlin, Moscow, 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.


Freedom Film Festival at the Directors Guild of America

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