October 28, 2016
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Richard Pena stepping down as NYFF program director

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: In related New York Film Festival news, Dan Stern, President of FSLC’s Board of Directors, too kthe stage prior to Sunday’s “The Descendants” screening and announced that veteran program director and head of the New York Film Festival selection committee will step down following next year’s NYFF … the 50th annual holding of the event. It will be Pena’s twenty-fifth year with the Film Society.

“Richard has been with the Film Society through the opening of the Walter Reade Theater as well as the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center,” Stern announced, “and we are pleased that he has accepted our invitation to stay on to help create a new educational initiative at the Film Society.”

Peña later said, “Heading into the fiftieth anniversary of the Festival, it seems a perfect time for a transition, both for me personally and for the organization.

“Working at the Film Society has been beyond a ‘dream come true,’” he continued, “but in the years left me I would like to possibly explore other areas of interest, both within and beyond the cinema. I also feel that, like at any other cultural institution, change can be important, as it will bring in fresh ideas and approaches to lead the Film Society into its next fifty years.”

FSLC’s Executive Director, Rose Kuo said, “Richard Pena has been a shining light for more than two decades at the Film Society, guiding us in the discovery of artists like Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh, Lars Von Trier, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Hong Sang Soo and many more. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Richard and I am delighted that he will continue with us as he transitions to a new period in his career and life.”

The question eventually shifts to who replaces Pena. Selection committee member Scott Foundas seems to be the obvious choice, though it will be interesting to see if NYFF organizers want to go in a different direction by bringing in someone outside of the “company,” so to speak.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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