American Cinema Foundation
T: 310.889.0742

About the ACF

Freedom Film FestivalThe American Cinema Foundation was started in 1994. ACF is a non-profit, nonpartisan arts organization. It was created to nurture and reward television and film projects that address fundamental social values in a positive manner, that support and strengthen the concepts of the common good and the common culture, and promote democratic pluralism and inclusion.

Gary McVey, ACF Executive DirectorACF Executive Director Gary McVey is a former New Yorker, a graduate of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Gary took over the helm of the ACF in 1997, bringing the specialized world of documentary and foreign films together with one of Hollywood's pioneering forums for public policy, and introducing programs that re-examine moments and movements in film and television history, including the nearly sixty year history of public television.

Gary McVey on KCET for AFI Fest 1995

Gary was an executive at Filmex, the original and legendary Los Angeles film festival, and became one of the founding directors of its successor, AFI FEST – the American Film Institute Los Angeles International Film Festival in 1987. Under his leadership the festival held its first annual Latino, Independent, and Hong Kong film weeks, and focused on the great change sweeping socialist Europe in those years. AFI FEST revived long-popular L.A. traditions like the all-night movie marathon (1995's All Night: Left Wing vs. Right Wing was a particular success). Video and information technology transformed the festival circuit in the nineties, with AFI playing a major role, and the festival was often the occasion of public introduction of new ideas.

Gary has served on film juries and panels in Ireland, Russia, Germany, Azerbaijan, Spain, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Lithuania.

The ACF founding director was Cathy Siegel Weiss, an entertainment attorney active in philanthropic circles. Her prior professional background included serving as counsel for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and assistant general counsel for Golden West Broadcasters.

Lionel Chetwynd
Lionel Chetwynd.
Laughing, in the lower left
corner: Sandra Tsing Loh.

The ACF founder and board chairman is Lionel Chetwynd, who was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for The Adventures of Duddy Kravitz starring Richard Dreyfuss. Chetwynd was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to write and co-produce a documentary on JFK. He became a Hollywood rarity, a specialist in political and military history, directing The Hanoi Hilton and writing hit TV films like To Heal a Nation (about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), Kissinger and Nixon, Color of Justice and many others, including P.T. Barnum and Varians War.

Rob Long and Cathy Seipp
Rob Long at the mike; Cathy Seipp front and center;
background: Andrew Breitbart (in blue jeans) next to Jill Stewart

Other ACF Board members include Matthew Duda, senior vice president of Showtime Networks, who has been one of its officers since its founding in the early 80s, and is involved in acquisitions and strategy; Rob Long, humorist and author, producer of the longtime US TV hit Cheers and one of the most well regarded American television writers since the early nineties; Frank Price, producer of films like The Tuskeegee Airmen, with Cuba Gooding Jr. Mr. Price is the former head of Universal Studios and of Columbia Pictures; Bob Gale, who wrote I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Steven Spielberg comedy 1941 and the Back to the Future trilogy; and Tom Selleck, one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. Mr. Selleck has also co-produced a series of classic western films for television and starred as General Eisenhower in the Lionel Chetwynd production Ike: Countdown to D-Day.

Absolute power in Azerbaijan: the Aliyev family at the Freedom Festival opening