Kicking A Lion

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Posts Tagged ‘yes on 8

‘Hollywood witch-hunt’ claims film boss

Mormon head of LA Film Festival donated to campaign against same-sex unions

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles

In the latest episode of Hollywood’s biggest witch-hunt since the era of McCarthyism, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival has resigned over revelations that he helped to fund the campaign to outlaw gay marriage in California.


Richard Raddon was hounded from office after it emerged he had donated $1,500 (£980) to support Proposition 8, the electoral ballot measure which banned same-sex unions, when it was backed by 52.5 per cent of the state’s voters on 4 November.

Mr Raddon is a devout member of the Mormon Church, which asked members to donate time and money to “Yes on 8”, securing tens of millions of dollars that helped finance a series of hard-hitting, and in many cases misleading, TV attack ads.

After his financial support for Proposition 8 was made public, Film Independent, the organisation that oversees the festival, was swamped with phone calls and emails from activists threatening to boycott next May’s week-long event. Although Film Independent’s board of directors offered a unanimous vote of confidence, Mr Raddon announced late on Tuesday that he would quit after eight years in office. “I have always held the belief that all people, no matter race, religion or sexual orientation, are entitled to equal rights,” read his somewhat mealy-mouthed resignation letter. “I consider myself a devout and faithful Mormon. I prefer to keep the details around my contribution through my church a private matter. But I am profoundly sorry for the negative attention that my actions have drawn to Film Independent and for the hurt and pain that is being experienced in the GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender] community.”

Mr Raddon’s name was first discovered on lists of “Yes on 8” donors two weeks ago, by a blogger called David Poland. A similar protest recently led to the departure of Scott Eckern, the artistic director of California Musical Theatre in Sacramento, who was exposed for donating $1,000 to the campaign.

Many gay rights activists are now manning picket lines outside the offices and outlets of other businesses whose executives supported the measure.

The Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in January, is firmly in their firing line, since its venue is in Park City, Utah, the state which represents the spiritual home of the Mormon faith. Sundance also has a screening room run by the Cinemark chain, whose chief executive Alan Stock donated $9,999 to “yes on 8”. Activists are planning to demonstrate outside Cinemark venues this weekend, to prevent it cashing-in on the film Milk, about the gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk.

Separately, the California Supreme Court has announced that it would hear a legal challenge to Proposition 8 brought by a selection of the 18,000 same-sex couples who had tied the knot in the five months since gay weddings were legalised.

Written by kickingalion

November 27, 2008 at 4:31 am

Nearly 500 picket Illinois Theatre following CEO’s ‘Yes on 8’ contribution

Evanston, IL — Opponents of California’s Proposition 8 continued to pressure for marriage equality by targeting the business of one of its biggest benefactors, Century Theatre in Evanston. Nearly 500 people gathered Saturday in Evanston to picket Century Theatre and send a message to Cinemark’s CEO.

Alan Stock, CEO of Plano, TX-based Cinemark, Inc., the owner of the Century Theater, donated $9999 to Proposition 8. Cinemark which operates Century, CinéArts and Tinseltown theaters is one of the largest theater chains in the country.

“It’s no longer open season on LGBT people,” said Bob Schwartz of the Gay Liberation Network. “People giving mega-bucks to promote discrimination against our community will now become objects of scorn themselves and they will feel it in the wallet or pocket book as we encourage other supporters of equal rights to cease patronizing your businesses.”

After a peaceful protest in front of the theater, the diverse group marched to the Northwestern University campus where they blocked the same entrance to the University that students did in the 60’s to protest the Vietnam War.

Gay-rights advocates continue to put the pressure on Cinemark. John Aravosis, editor of political blog Americablog, has called for the boycott of the gay-friendly Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah noting that Sundance uses Cinemark-owned Holiday Village Cinema as one of its biggest screening venues.

“Your Sundance registration money is quite literally helping to subsidize a donation to Yes on 8,” said Aravosis.

A national organizer is also planning boycotts of the Cinemark-owned and operated theatres.

Written by kickingalion

November 24, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Our Biggest Mistake: Boycotting Sundance

After the Mormon Church, which is based in Salt Lake City, funneled $15 million into the “Yes on 8” Campaign, I was very much in favor of boycotting Utah.  The Sundance Film Festival boycott?  Not a chance!  Yes, I realize that 2004’s festival dumped $22 million into Utah’s financial bucket.  But boycotting Sundance was a poorly thought out, knee jerk reaction.  A boycott of the indie film maker festival would be like shooting ourselves in the foot.

Sundance began in 1978 in Salt Lake City, fueled by the dream of actor/director Robert Redford.  It was specifically designed to boost and showcase indie films.  In 1981 the 10-day festival moved to Park City, Utah and launched the Sundance Institute with programs such as the Filmmakers/Directors Lab.  By 1984 it had expanded into theatre with the Playwrights Lab. 

From the origins of the festival, Sundance has embraced GLBT films.  The lesbian romance classic, Desert Hearts, won honorable mention in 1985, Longtime Companion, won 1990’s Audience Award, Go Fish was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in 1994, Trick premiered at the festival in 1999 and in 2001 we saw a double winner (Audience Award and Directing) for John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Many of the films showcased at Sundance won a place in After Elton’s 50 Greatest Gay Films.

GLBT documentaries have also won many awards at the festival.  In 1995 the unforgettable The Celluloid Closet was featured and in 2006 Small Town Gay Bar was a nominee.  AIDS themed documentaries have also been featured, such as the gut-wrenching Absolutely Positive in 1991.

To continue highlighting and promoting GLBT films, Sundance partnered with GLAAD to create the Queer Lounge in 2004.  For more details visit Queer Lounge.

It’s certainly too late to ask Sundance to move out of Utah, the festivals just 8 weeks away.  And it would be too costly for both the festival and the institute to move at all.  So yes, boycott Utah, but not Sundance.  Stock up on food and gas at the border and sleep in your car, but still head to the festival which has embraced the GLBT community for 25 years.