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Vincent Vargas is a foreign language teacher at a private school in New York City. He runs websites dedicated to Casablanca (www.vincasa.com) and Richard Wagner (www.wagneroperas.com).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Jones and Koehler to replace Peña at the NY Film Festival

A year after it was announced that Richard Peña would be leaving his post as program director and head of the selection committee at the NY Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced that Kent Jones would become director of programming for the festival, and Robert Koehler would take on the job of director of programming year round.  To my knowledge, the first time that this job has been divided between two people.  Here is an excerpt from the press release that was sent today:

New York, NY (September 13, 2012) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center, America’s pre-eminent non-profit film organization, announced today the appointment of Kent Jones as Director of Programming, New York Film Festival and Robert Koehler as Director of Programming, Year Round. As announced previously, after 25 years, Program Director and New York Film Festival Selection Committee Head Richard Peña will step down from his post at the end of 2012 and Jones and Koehler will then move into their new programming roles with the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Peña will continue his involvement with the Film Society of Lincoln Center in helping design and organize a new educational initiative.

The appointment of two directors to the programming team will allow the Film Society to better serve the needs of an organization that has recently expanded its operations with the opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film. In addition to continuing the Film Society’s trademark programs, Kent Jones and Robert Koehler will continue to develop new programming initiatives and film series including first runs, family films, new media, educational and artist development programs.

“The New York Film Festival has always been a beacon to me – when I was young and pouring over the yearly schedule in the Sunday Times, when I moved to New York in my 20s and started to actually attend the festival, and later when I served on the selection committee” said Kent Jones. “It means a lot to me to be entrusted with its stewardship after Richard Peña, to whom I owe a lot."

Kent Jones’ writing on film has been published throughout the world in numerous magazines, newspapers, catalogues, websites and journals. In 2007 a collection of his writings, Physical Evidence, was published by Wesleyan University Press, and he recently edited the first English-language volume of writings on Olivier Assayas, published by Filmmuseum Synema Publikationem. He is a 2012 Guggenheim Fellow. Jones has collaborated for many years on documentaries with Martin Scorsese, beginning with My Voyage to Italy (2001) on which he served as co-writer. He and Scorsese co-wrote and co-directed A Letter to Elia (2010), an Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning film about the director Elia Kazan. Scorsese was the producer and narrator of Jones’ 2007 documentary about Val Lewton, The Man in the Shadows.

Jones began in programming with Bruce Goldstein at Film Forum, and served as the American representative for the Rotterdam International Film Festival from 1996 to 1998. From 1998 to 2009, he was Associate Director of Programming at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, and from 2002 to 2009 he served on the New York Film Festival selection committee. He has also served on juries at film festivals around the world, including Rotterdam, Buenos Aires, San Francisco, Venice and Cannes. In 2009, he was named Executive Director of The World Cinema Foundation.

Robert Koehler is a film critic and festival programmer and has served as an instructor and programmer for UCLA Extension’s Sneak Preview program from 2003-2007. In 2003, he developed the successful, innovative film program, “The Films That Got Away,” an ongoing series presenting significant recent work that has previously not screened in Los Angeles. Institutions with which the series has collaborated include UCLA Film Archive, the American Cinematheque and the Los Angeles Film Festival. In 2009, he was appointed director of programming at AFI Fest Los Angeles, where he helped create a new and focused competition section titled “New Lights,” as part of AFI Fest’s programming concept as a festival-of-festivals.

A graduate of UCLA, Koehler was a theater critic for the LA Weekly and Los Angeles Times during the 1980s and 1990s. He has been a contributor to Variety since 1994. As a film critic, he has written for Variety, Cinema Scope, Cineaste, Film Comment, IndieWire, The Christian Science Monitor and Filmjourney.org, as well as Cahiers du Cinema (France and Spain) and Die Tagezeitung. His blog column analyzing film festivals can be read at Filmlinc.com, the website of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics, and has served on festival juries in Cannes, Berlin, Locarno, Vancouver, Buenos Aires, Indie Lisboa, Copenhagen, Montreal, Mexico City, Santiago, Palm Springs, Bermuda and Miami. Among his published work are chapters in the books “Cine Argentino 1999-2009,” “On Film Festivals,” from Wildflower Press, and “American Comedy,” published by the San Sebastian Film Festival.

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