Lesli Klainberg has officially been appointed as Executive Director of the Film Society, it was announced today. Additionally, the Film Society announced that Indiewire co-founder Eugene Hernandez will join Klainberg as Deputy Director, a new position. The Film Society also promoted Michael Gibbons to Director of Digital Platforms and named Matt Bolish as Associate Director of Operations and head programmer of its Convergence program.
Prior to accepting her new post, Klainberg served as Managing Director of the Film Society, producing the last three New York Film Festivals. She was appointed Interim Executive Director in December, replacing Rose Kuo, who held the position for three years. Rather than launch a search for a new full-time director, the board worked closely with Klainberg and Hernandez over the past several months to secure their positions.
Before joining the Film Society, Klainberg was the Executive Director of NewFest, a New York LGBT Film Festival, and was also a Consulting Producer for Sundance’s Documentary Film Program. While serving as Producer for IFP’s Independent Film Week Forum, she was named Co-Leader of the weeklong Documentary Finishing Lab, a position she held for three years. In addition to these achievements, Klainberg is a founding national board member of GLAAD and formerly served on the boards of both Outfest and NewFest.
Her experience also extends beyond the festival world. Through her production company Orchard Films, Klainberg has directed and produced independent documentaries such as “Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer’s End,” “Miss America,” “In the Company of Women,” and “Indie Sex.” She also worked on the PGA Award-nominated documentary “A Place at the Table.”
“It is especially gratifying to us to select the Film Society’s new leadership team from within our own ranks. Lesli has a deep appreciation of our mission and we are confident that, together with Eugene, she will build on the success we have realized in recent years,” Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Board Chairman Ann Tenenbaum said.
In addition to Klainberg’s role, Indiewire founder Eugene Hernandez was appointed as Deputy Director, having joined the Film Society as director of Digital Strategy in 2010. Hernandez will now oversee the day-to-day operations of the organization, including partner relations, community and industry initiatives, educational outreach and other administrative jobs pertaining to year-round programs and theater operations.
As Director of Digital Strategy, Hernandez revitalized the Society’s website, FilmLinc.com, and is credited with creating the digital publication FilmLinc Daily, the expansion of social media in general, and for introducing streaming video content to the organization. He also worked with Matt Bolish, Associate Director of Operations and Programmer for Convergence, on the year-long convergence program that first appeared at the New York Film Festival.
Before working with the Film Society, Hernandez founded Indiewire in 1996 and served as editor in chief for 12 years. On the phone today with Indiewire from the SXSW Film Festival, where he’s currently in attendance with Klainberg, Gibbons and Bolish, all working in their new capacities. Hernandez discussed his personal connections to the institution. “I’m a rather nostalgic person,” he said. “Last Saturday was my 20 year anniversary of moving to New York. The Film Society was the first film institution that I interacted with in New York. The very first festival I attended was New Directors/New Films. I very quickly gravitated here. It’s a significant period of time in my life. The organization really introduced me to New York film culture and opened my eyes to film in new ways.”
He also pointed out that Klainberg felt similarly, having screened her 1997 documentary “Paul Monette” at the Film Society. “For both of us,” he said, “the opportunity to take on this leadership role allows us to give back to this organization, this film culture and our city — and hopefully lay the foundation for our future.”