Personal Attack “Crossed the Line” — Erin Hensley Tries To Silence Cinefamily / Fairfax Cinema Watchdog
This website, CinefamilyAccountability (CA), was published in late 2017 as a resource for the Cinefamily community. In January 2018, CA broke the news of Dan Harkham’s plan to convert Cinefamily into Fairfax Cinema; in February 2018, CA provided additional details following an interview with Erin Hensley, Cinefamily’s accountant and (now) Fairfax’s Managing Director. Hensley scheduled a follow-up with CA to continue the conversation, but weeks later, amidst dueling charges of bad faith, Hensley broke off communication and sought to silence this site.
(Pardon the departure from the site’s usual tone. The rest of this account, for reasons soon to be evident, is best told in the first person.)
Erin and I spoke on January 24, 2018 for about 90 minutes, mostly off the record. I explained how I came to this labor of love, and I tried to understand why Fairfax feels no responsibility to Cinefamily’s obligations and mistakes. Neither of our positions shifted, but I still felt good about opening a dialogue, talking to each other like people, and committing to ongoing communication.
It took three weeks to schedule the follow-up call, and another week until the call. On the morning of the call, I emailed Erin to confirm, asked for a contact number, and provided my own. (I found our previous conversation via conference call to be sketchy: I didn’t know if others were on the call, or if it was being recorded.) She replied 52 minutes before the call, ignored my concern, and directed me to the same conference call line.
Erin has consistently taken a weird, chipper, robotic tone in her emails. She’s also consistently failed on follow-through (I’d sent her my questions weeks in advance to avoid any “gotcha”-ness), so I wasn’t surprised Erin created a last-minute pretext for not talking.
I was surprised to find that as we were pointing fingers at each other over email, Erin was also writing to my boss! When Erin and I spoke in January, we’d discussed how CA was a purely personal effort. (I work for a small nonprofit dedicated to economic, environmental, and racial justice; CA has no affiliation with my employer.) Now Erin was writing to my executive director with lies, misrepresentations, and disingenuous concerns: “it is very unclear what he is doing…” “he is using company resources for this campaign…” “he has called me during office hours…” Erin raised new issues for the first time; elevated small complaints to major ones; accused me of “hideous sexism” and “harassment;” and, ironically, wrote of the importance of “healthy, safe work environments.”
This was a clumsy effort to get me in trouble at work, and I’m grateful to have an understanding employer. But this went beyond spin and evasion. These knowing misrepresentations crossed a line. Erin denied recording our call, but I found myself hoping she had recorded it so her bad faith would be evident to all. Lordy, let there be tapes!
I followed up with Erin, but have received no reply. My further outreach efforts have likewise gone ignored.
The full email thread is available for review. To respect the privacy of uninvolved parties, names not associated with Cinefamily/Fairfax or with CA have been redacted.