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Cinefamily's holiday telethon to be a low-key, eccentric affair

Cinefamily's 24 Hour Holiday Telethon at the Silent Movie Theatre isn't your parents' fundraiser. It's not airing on television and celebrities won't be staffing the phone lines.

But the telethon, which begins Saturday at 1 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1 p.m., embraces the quirky spirit of the nonprofit organization whose mission is to "foster a spirit of community and a sense of discovery, while reinvigorating the movie-going experience."

Since its inception seven years ago, Cinefamily has offered a veritable Heinz 57 variety of programming. Last month, the theater saluted Kris Kristofferson with a film retrospective, screened the documentary "The Act of Killing" and presented a rare 1925 comedy, "Paths to Paradise." And Christmas week, it is screening the ultimate holiday classic: 1946's "It's a Wonderful Life."

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Anjelica Huston will kick off the telethon with a Q&A and Illeana Douglas will hold a Celebrity Garage Sale. The metal band Earth will play a concert to images from Werner Herzog's experimental documentary "Fata Morgana."

Bruce Dern, who is garnering awards attention for his performance in "Nebraska," will participate in a lunchtime conversation and receive the first Cinefamily Lifetime Achievement Award.

Miranda July, Eric Wareheim, Mike Judge, Shadoe Stevens, Steve James, puppeteers from the venerable Bob Baker Marionette Theater, and Nilbog, which calls itself the world's only horror movie music tribute band, are all also scheduled to appear during the fundraiser.

Hadrian Belove, who founded Cinefamily with the owners of the building, Sammy and Dan Harkham, created the telethon two years ago.

"I had to pay the rent," Belove acknowledged.

He paid the rent and then some.

"It raised $70,000, which was very significant for us," said Belove, who is executive director of Cinefamily.

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Last year, Cinefamily took in $250,000 from the telethon and a Kickstarter campaign.

"And that doesn't include the Downey donation," Belove added.

It seems that Robert Downey Jr. was something of a superhero at last year's telethon when he arrived to be the event's first guest.

"I sort of explained that we need this projector or we are not going to be able to show movies next year," Belove recalled. "He said, 'How much does that run?' I said, 'Between $80,000 to $100,000.' He said, 'I got it.'"

The event streams live on the Cinefamily website at http://www.cinefamily.org.

"Right next to the screen is a donation button," Belove said. The Cinefamily website lists this year's goal as $144,000.

All events at the theater are free, with guaranteed admission for Cinefamily members and those who become members.

"I try to make everything free for members," Belove said. "We are trying to build a community. I want people to be regulars. If people are coming free, they will be more experimental in their viewing habits."

The "Night Owl" programming from 1 to 6 a.m. Sunday has become one of the telethon's most popular events. Folk singer-songwriter Father John Misty, Frank Zappa collaborator Bruce Bickford, actress Jena Malone and comedian Greg Proops are among those scheduled to appear.

"It's modeled on 'Playboy After Dark,'" Belove said. "All the guests are on stage together. There's a bar on stage and we are having drinks. It's like show and tell."

susan.king@latimes.com

The Cinefamily 24 Hour Holiday Telethon

Where: Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax, Los Angeles

When: From 1 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

Information: http://www.cinefamily.org

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