Pickford Foundation de-funds Mary Pickford Institute 5

2012-03-23-bs02.fauntleroy.jpgThe Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education, a ten-year-running nonprofit organization that preserves the silent film legacy of producer/actress Mary Pickford, and uses her example to teach young children about film history and socially conscious filmmaking, has had its funding discontinued by its long-time supporter, the Mary Pickford Foundation, a charitable trust.

Mary Pickford (1892-1979), Hollywood’s original “Artist,” was the world’s first movie superstar, known internationally as the original “America’s Sweetheart.”

The Mary Pickford Institute was started as an independent non-profit in 2002. The Institute’s purpose is the preserving and promoting Mary Pickford’s films, and her inspirational legacy as businesswoman, producer, actress, and philanthropist. The Institute’s other goals include teaching film history and film making to Southern California children, particularly at-risk youth. The Institute currently maintains its free research library, which is open to the public, at 8885 Venice Blvd., in Los Angeles.

2012-03-23-bs04.rooney.jpgOver the years its staff has developed curriculum, taught classes, maintained a free research library, produced film screenings with symphony orchestras and other live ensembles, and restored Mary Pickford silent films for DVD release. Library curator, Hugh Munro Neely has given dozens of free lectures and introduced screenings of many Mary Pickford films through the MPI legacy programs.

MPI has built a reputation for educational outreach to underserved and at-risk youth in Los Angeles with its signature enrichment program, the Mary Pickford Mobile Film Classroom (MFC). A production ‘studio-on-wheels’, the MFC travels throughout greater Los Angeles to bring digital media storytelling instruction to students, grades 3-12, who do not have access to technology at their school or home. MPI educational outreach programs incorporate film history into a curriculum that provides a bridge from early cinema to modern filmmaking.

The Mary Pickford Foundation, with assets of reportedly in the range of $17 million, has chosen to stop all funding of the Institute. The Institute’s educational programs receive limited funding from a variety of sources, and will be able to continue, with some difficulty, without the Foundation’s help.

However MPI’s free research library, web site, and various outreach programs that provide screenings and lectures rely almost completely on Foundation funding. As of March 1, the Institute has had no money for salaries or the lease of its library space.

The Foundation has received dozens of letters in support of MPI and the results of an Institute survey, conducted last year, found wide support for its programs and for the continuation of the Institute.

Manon Banta, Director of Education, states “We know our programs are effective, and that Mary Pickford is an important role model. It’s unfortunate that the actions of the Mary Pickford Foundation are taking place at this time in cinema history. We, the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education, continue to seek new funders to carry on our outreach to underserved youth in LA.

“To quote Mary Pickford herself  ‘…You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.’ We’re picking ourselves up from this unexpected setback and making a fresh start asking for support from all who see the need and value of preserving film history and empowering youth through arts education.”


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5 thoughts on “Pickford Foundation de-funds Mary Pickford Institute

  1. Ginny Beard Jun 14,2012 12:35 pm

    Oddly, the foundation that does not own the institute was funding it and when the institute closed its doors, the foundation board member was the one to pick up the keys. And the foundation is under investigation for matters concerning harassment and filing false documentation with the IRS. There was a mediation this week where the foundation members refused to speak except through their attorneys, made demands, refused to mediate or negotiate and the attorney attempted to bully the contractor. Unfortunately, the contractor has partners, including ones that are involved with another film on soldier resiliency the foundation has also tried to get control of, that are not bully susceptible.

  2. mike smith Mar 31,2012 12:10 am

    I hope the institution stays in business, its a shame to see her legacy fade away as if it never existed. Those entrusted with its protection should be ashamed if they allow this to happen.

  3. William Handelsman Mar 28,2012 4:28 pm

    The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education is not under investigation or sanction by any governmental agency for any type of wrongdoing, and does not permit, condone or conceal it in any way.

    The Mary Pickford Foundation does not own the Mary Pickford Institute, and the two separate organizations should not be confused.

    The Institute shot original footage to be used for a documentary on veterans and their families, but has had nothing whatsoever to do with the editing of that footage into a finished form, and is not suppressing it.

    A contractor who directed some of this footage is currently in a dispute with the Mary Pickford Foundation, involving ownership of the copyright and other associated rights required for its use in public release of a personal documentary project.

  4. mike smith Mar 25,2012 4:26 pm

    Could it be because the foundation might be under investigation for fraud and other criminal activity? Is it possible the foundation paid its own institute with foundation donations to produce films that never got made, but the institute reported them as being complete, paid those involved to keep quiet, yet those productions don’t exist and/or never got finished, which is a direct conflict with their financial reports open to the public as a foundation. Let’s all take a look at those and tell what we see here. It would be weird for a foundation to own a lot of private homes and other properties, or is that normal. I wonder what type of example this business sets for the youth they so vigorously champion.

  5. Ginny Beard Mar 25,2012 10:12 am

    Is this because they discovered the pedophile type was being protected by the institute because of his position? Seems like odd timing because of legal issues with a documentary production.

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