Bringing pressure to bear onthe screener ban issue to boiling point, The Los Angeles Film CriticsAssociation has announced that it will cancel its annual awards this year"unless there is a timely rescinding of the ban on screeners."

The group of critics met onSaturday and approved a motion which put forward the decision. The ban,yesterday's announcement said, "seriously inhibits our ability to work asprofessionals and compromises the integrity and fairness of the evaluationprocess."

LAFCA president JeanOppenheimer had written to Jack Valenti, the president and CEO of the MotionPicture Association Of America (MPAA) which is behind the ban, on Oct 2.

"LAFCA members make everyeffort to watch films on the big screen but in some instances it is simply notpossible," she said. "Given the sheer number of films released as winterapproaches, it is almost physically impossible to attend every screening beforeour mid-December voting. The only opportunity to see some films is on tape or DVD."

She went on to say that theMPAA's ban most of all affected independent films, "a category which includessome of the most artistically worthy films being made."

"Critics who have alreadyseen a film on the big screen often want to take a second look and, given timeconstraints, a tape or DVD is the only way to do so," she added. "Were it notfor the opportunity to re-watch films on tape, gems such as Pedro Almodovar's Talkto Her and artists such as AllySheedy in High Art or Edie Falcoin Sunshine State might have beenoverlooked."

A compromise on the screenerban is being looked at by the MPAA member studios whereby water-markedvideocassettes be distributed to Academy voters, although a conference callbetween the players in the dispute on Thursday proved inconclusive.