An independent (and nonprofit) movie theatre in Los Angeles has temporarily shut its doors after an anonymous email surfaced alleging a hostile working environment and misogynistic company culture. The email accuses Shadie Elnashai, the VP of the Board of Directors and Hadrian Belove, executive managing director, of assaulting and abusing ther younger, female subordinates. Both have since resigned. The theatre will remain closed until further notice. Here is what we know about the allegations:
1. 17 former Cinefamily employees chronicled deeply rooted sexism in the workplace, starting from day one of the theater’s opening ten years ago.
2. Shadie Elnashai, former board vice president of Cinefamily, was known for repeatedly flirting with staff and volunteers as well has openly having sexual relationships with them.
3. Shadie resigned from Cinefamily after an email surfaced accusing him of raping multiple women and then verbally threatening the women into silence. Because the email is anonymous, it is unclear who the accuser is.
4. Executive Managing Director Trevor Jones said that when he started two years ago, he made it very clear that relationships between upper management and employees would not be tolerated.
5. According to screenshots provided to Buzzfeed News, Simon Oré (the former board president of Cinefamily) said that the “only reason [a staff member] is there is cause H wants to fuck her.” H is referring to Hadrian Belove, the now former executive creative director.
6. Employees say that they often saw Belove leave through the back door after hours with volunteers.
7. Karina Chacham, a former volunteer, was told that Belove liked to “test the new meat.”
8. Chacham admits that she saw Belove receiving oral sex from a volunteer during a backyard party for employees.
9. A former programmer, William Morris, alleges that the company culture at Cinefamily was not only misogynistic but an “active rape culture”.
10. When Matt Cornell, the former theatre manager, was crafting the first mission statement for Cinefamily with Belove back in 2007, he suggested including a sexual harassment policy. Belove was against the idea.
11. A former employee alleges that Belove once said out loud that he started Cinefamily in order to “get laid.”
12. Belove slept with employees and then showed them preferential treatment afterward (like offering them promotions.)
13. Mario Muñoz, a former volunteer coordinator, said that Belove requested he recruit more “hot girls” to be volunteers.
14. In 2014, a lawsuit was filed against Belove and Cinefamily by a former employee. The case was settled out of court.
15. During a private screening to wealthy donors, Belove inappropriately introduced employee Christina Poppy to the crowd. “Here is Tina - isn’t she beautiful and stylish! If you are lucky maybe she will give you her telephone number.” Not only did Belove essentially pimp her out to the wealthy donors, but he also made her sleep in the same bed as him during a trip to the Sundance Film Festival.
Belove has responded to the allegations against him claiming that they were made by bitter ex-employees that he's fired over the years. He goes on to say that they banded together to ruin the reputation of Cinefamily. If these two men, Shadie Elnashai and Hadrian Belove, are indeed innocent, why did they both resign following the anonymous email?
Nothing in California (or federal law) outright forbids consensual workplace sexual relationships, but it is illegal if the sexual relationship becomes non-consensual, leads to quid pro quo, favoritism, or exploitation, which seems to be exactly what happened here.
*image by Jake Hills
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