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Gary Essert
(October 15, 1938 - December 16, 1992) USA

Gary Essert

CEO of the American Cinematheque

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Gary Essert was born in Oakland, CA. After serving in the US Navy, he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he started programming student and professional films. He designed and ran The Kaleidoscope (1967-69) and worked occasionally as a graphic designer.

With the assistance of George Cukor and along with his partner Gary Abrahams, Gary Essert launched the first Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) in Hollywood, CA (1971). The original intent of Filmex was to provide "an exposition encompassing the remarkable diversity of contemporary film, the rich heritage of the motion picture art form, and the promise of the future."

Programming attracted thousands of viewers each year to screenings of productions from around the world. Events ranged from Hollywood type premieres to free screenings, children's programs, retrospectives, panels, and seminars. Filmex struggled with financial difficulty and in ca. 1984 Essert was forced to leave the organization.

Shortly after his departure Filmex ceased to operate having evolved into an annual event presented by American Film Institute. He went on to create the American Cinematheque, a sister organization to the Cinematheque Francaise and the British Film Institute, and also organized screenings for the LA Hollywood Bowl's "An Old Fashioned Night at the Movies."

Gary Essert died at his home in Los Angeles of Aids-related complications. He was 54 years old. His companion, Gary Abrahams, died just one month before him, due to the complication of Aids.

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Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/ - http://www.oac.cdlib.org/

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