After sexual harassment and assault allegations were leveraged against two Cinefamily members, an internal investigation has led to the Los Angeles indie film organization to shut down.
In late August, Cinefamily temporarily suspended screenings after members received an anonymous email accusing sexual mistreatment from co-founder and executive director Hadrian Belove and board of directors vice president Shadie Elnashai. Reportedly, the email said Belove was involved in a 2014 sexual harassment settlement and claimed Elnashai raped “multiple women.”
After the initial email, more harassment allegations began to emerge, with women, both staff and volunteers, claiming Cinefamily had created a misogynistic environment that largely treated workers unfairly. An internal investigation ultimately found “breaches of acceptable behavior alleged to have happened at Cinefamily offices and events” as well as a workplace environment that “discouraged employees and volunteers from reporting distressing workplace incidents and/or made them feel unheard if they did so.”
Cinefamily’s investigation subsequently led the board of directors to shut down the organization. The Silent Movie Theatre, which hosted Cinefamily’s events and office, will close and be renovated by its landlord.
“The damage caused to the organization by the conduct of some and the crippling debt now facing the Cinefamily are, in the board’s view, irreparable,” the board said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Lynx Insights and Investigations principal Giles Miller was retained by Cinefamily to investigate the accusations. And while Miller said that the investigations ended before “conclusive findings” were established, his research found enough information for the board to close the theater.
“From the beginning and throughout this, the board was very clear that they wanted to fully investigate all these allegations of bad acts,” Miller said to the Times. “I think it’s important that the public know a good faith investigation was entered into by the board and was initiated by the board and supported by the board.”
Cinefamily’s closing follows a larger problem in the film industry regarding sexual misconduct. Screen Junkies creator Andy Signore was fired amid sexual harassment and assault allegations, and Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles left the site after an Alamo Drafthouse employee accused him of repeatedly sexually assaulting her. Then there are the hundreds of actors across Hollywood and Broadway who, in just the past six weeks, have outted powerful celebrities for predatory sexual behavior, igniting a national conversation about the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and assault.