Actor/director George Clooney was "toasted by a host of fellow stars" at a lavish benefit held last Friday for American Cinematheque, a not-for-profit organization in Los Angeles that, since 1981, has supported film -- the kind of film not always available to a wide audience. American Cinematheque brings audiences a truly impressive array of film from a wide variety of cinematic niches, nooks and crannies. A peek at their calendar reveals such delectable and diverse events as "New Argentine Cinema," "Russian Fantastique Cinema, "Cinema Italian Style," "An Evening with Christopher Nolan," a screening of Al Jolson's 1936 film The Singing Kid, and a Halloween screening of a 70mm print of Ghostbusters! And that's just in October.

Since 1986, American Cinematheque has held a fundraiser at which it honors "an extraordinary artist (actor, director or writer) in the entertainment industry, who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture." The first honoree was Eddie Murphy; subsequent artists honored by American Cinematheque are: Bette Midler (1987); Robin Williams (1988); Steven Spielberg (1989); Ron Howard (1990); Martin Scorsese (1991); Sean Connery (1992); Michael Douglas (1993); Rob Reiner (1994); Mel Gibson (1995); Tom Cruise (1996); John Travolta (1997); Arnold Schwarzenegger (1998); Jodie Foster (1999); Bruce Willis (2000); Nicolas Cage (2001); Denzel Washington (2002); Nicole Kidman (2003), Steve Martin (2004) and Al Pacino (2005).

Benefit co-chairs included Matt Damon, Ethan and Joel Coen, Sydney Pollack, Steven Spielberg and the Weinsteins (although I kinda doubt that in this case the co-chairs were spiking the fruit punch and scotch-taping crepe paper streamers to the rafters of the high school gym, which is the visual that phrases like "benefit co-chairs" bring to my mind), and ticket prices ran $550 a pop. With 1,200 or so stars expected to be in attendance at the time of the press release, the event is American Cinematheque's primary fundraiser, supporting maintenance of the org's two theaters, The Egyptian and The Aero, as well as funding programming throughout the year.

It's great to see the stars come out to support the kinds of films most people will only get to see if they attend film school or go to a lot of film festivals; American Cinematheque, like Film Forum in New York City and Northwest Film Forum here in Seattle, makes it possible for the average cinephile to have access to some amazing films, both new and old. Cinematical recently brought on board two LA-based writers, so look for us to start covering American Cinematheque events along with our Film Forum and Northwest Film Forum coverage, fellow film buffs.