By Dom Serafini
This journalist reached out to Michael F. Goldman, someone he considered a “fellow Italian,” in 1991, when we at VideoAge were being unfairly financially penalized by the American Film Market (AFM) organizers, and Goldman had just been reelected as AFM’s chairman. Even before his reelection, he argued in VideoAge’s September 1991 Issue that, “The AFM should put members’ interests before its own.” This was meant as a boost for MIFED, the Italian film market that was supported by VideoAge, but not the AFM’s staff, many of whom tried to undermine it at any and every opportunity. (MIFED was subsequently killed off by an Italian politician.) This anecdote came to mind upon finding out that Goldman died on June 9, 2020 at age 81 in Los Angeles.
To further show support for MIFED, Goldman, in a VideoAge Daily edition at AFM in 1991, stated, “I’m married to Giulia Gagliani, an Italian from Rome.”
Indeed, many earlier AFM officials and co-founders were in some way related to Italy and the Italian film industry, like Robbie Little, who came to L.A. from Rome in 1980; Mark Damon, who became a successful actor in Italy in the 1960s; Italian-American Rocco Vigliotti (Carolco); Goldman; and AFM president Jonas Rosenfield, a former executive with Italian Film Exports (IFE), who joined the AFM in 1983 and became its first paid president in 1985. IFE was created in 1951 to promote and distribute Italian films in the U.S., and it was partially financed by 12.5 percent of all American film earnings in Italy.
Goldman served as AFM’s first CFO and was elected chairman twice: 1984-1985 and 1991-1993.
The idea of AFM was first articulated in the summer of 1980 during a luncheon attended by five Los Angeles-based independent film distribution executives who got together to “discuss the high costs, the bribes, and corruption at the Cannes Film Festival.”
Subsequently, an extended group met up in the boardroom of a Bank of America in Beverly Hills. The larger group included Ed Carlin (Concord/New Horizon), Damon (PSO), Little (Overseas Pictures), and Goldman (Manson). The American Film Market was formed the following October.
Goldman was born in Manila, Philippines in 1939. He lived in there until 1942 and again from 1945 through 1950. His family then moved to Tokyo, Japan where they stayed until 1953. His father, who was born in Shanghai, then moved the family to Beverly Hills, where Goldman attended Beverly Hills High School, graduating in 1957. After a brief stint in the U.S. Army as a military policeman, he attended UCLA, graduating from the business school in 1962 with a specialty in marketing and accounting. Goldman was a certified CPA in the state of California.
Goldman’s film company, Manson, was a family business started by his father, Edmund, after he left Columbia Pictures in 1953. Michael joined Manson in 1962 and took over its operations in 1975.
After 1975, Manson ceased to distribute films in the U.S., and focused solely on international licensing. In the early 1980s, Manson Distributing Corporation became Manson International. In late 1986, Manson international was purchased by Winstar, Inc. Today, the Manson library resides within and is distributed by MGM.
Goldman is survived by his wife Giulia, and sons Mathew and Nicholas. Also surviving him is his younger sister, Lorelei.