By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire February 17, 2009 at 10:26AM
"Woah," was the way blogger Karina Longworth began a post this morning reacting to the news that Sundance Film Festival director Geoff Gilmore is joining Tribeca Enterprises in New York City. Similar words of shock followed on Facebook and via instant message today in a number of conversations with industry insiders who began wondering what it all means.
The move finds Geoff Gilmore leaving a top non-profit film festival post in Los Angeles to join a for-profit New York City entertainment entity that runs a film festival, but also has its sights set on digital initiatives and international expansion. He is not going to Tribeca to run the film festival, insiders noted.
"This is a game changer," one leading independent film producer told indieWIRE, via IM, asking not to be quoted but reiterating that Gilmore is, within the industry, as synonymous with the Sundance Film Festival as Robert Redford.
Reached in Europe where he is currently traveling, Geoff Gilmore began by telling indieWIRE simply, "I really want to move to New York, I've been doing this for 19 years and I felt that I wanted to make a change." Tribeca's Jane Rosenthal was unavailable for comment on Tuesday and Sundance Robert Redford offered a prepared statement.
A native New Yorker who grew up on Long Island, Gilmore said that he was thrilled to come home after decades on the West Coast. He was at the UCLA Archive before joining Sundance nearly 20 years ago. "I am just excited as all hell," he quipped today.
Gilmore's role as Chief Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises puts him at the creative helm of a number of Tribeca branded businesses, from the Tribeca Film Festival to Tribeca Cinemas, Tribecafilm.com, and the expanding Tribeca Film Festival International arm, which includes programs such as the recently announced Tribeca Film Festival Doha (in the Middle Eastern country of Qatar slated for November). He reports directly to founder and partner Jane Rosenthal and will join the board alongside co-founders Robert DeNiro and Craig Hatkoff.
And the move brings to Tribeca another former festival organizer from a leading U.S. festival. Peter Scarlet joined Tribeca after running the San Francisco International Film Festival and was later joined by former SXSW organizer Nancy Schafer. Gilmore will be in New York in a couple of weeks, he told indieWIRE today.
"I am leaving an organization that I have enormously, enormously strong feelings for," Gilmore told indieWIRE today, sounding more enthusiastic about his new job than nostalgic about his old one. But he also voiced a tremendous sense of pride out of this year's festival. "I am enormously grateful to Robert Redford," he added, complimenting Sundance, "It's an incredibly vibrant and creative organization which has made an enourmous impact on the film industry."
Sundance founder and president Robert Redford, in a prepared statement today express "a personal fondness" and "deep respect" for Gilmore, noting, Our festival’s 25th anniversary has been a time of candid reflection. I support completely his decision. The timing is right to move on. We wish Geoff only the best as he embarks on the next phases of his life and career.”
Echoing comments he shared with the film community in a recent first person article for indieWIRE, Gilmore reiterated that his focus at Tribeca will be much broader than just the eight year old Tribeca Film Festival.
"We have to look at what festivals are going to be and we have to look at how that is going to evolve," Gilmore told indieWIRE today, "The global content issues that I am going to look at at Tribeca are a world of excitement for me."
"The problems right now for the independent arena are multiple. They include the distribution bottleneck and the difficulties of finding new alternatives to having your films reach audiences," he added.
"Festivals have helped that world change and festivals are going to continue to help that world change," he noted. Concluding the point, he added, "What Tribeca Enterprises is going to do is be involved in setting up a new paradigm," exploring, "the ways that festivals become platforms for new enterprises."