Long before there was AFI Fest, there was Filmex -- the Los Angeles International Film Exposition.
"Filmex was, for many of us, the introduction to alternative film in Los Angeles," recalled producer Tom Pollock, who served as chairman of the board of trustees of Filmex in those early years.
The first Filmex was launched on Nov. 5, 1971, at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, with the premiere of "The Last Picture Show" and featured a circus-like opening night with a tightrope walker, a fire-eater and an elephant greeting the guests.
Pollock said the elephant was the brainchild of the late Gary Essert and the late Gary Abraham, who ran Filmex and were fondly referred to as "The Garys." "Filmex was a different kind of film festival," Pollock added. "You wouldn't see elephants at Sundance."