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by Eugene Hernandez
March 11, 2009 11:58 AM
8 Comments
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Kent Jones' Resignation Marks Latest High-Profile Film Society Departure

Word of the latest high-profile departure at New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center had insiders and observers again buzzing about the venerable film organization today. Kent Jones, associate director of programming at the Film Society and editor-at-large at Film Comment, and a filmmaker, has resigned after 10 years at the organization.

En route to the airport for an international flight to Vienna where he will be presenting his recent documentary, "Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows," Kent Jones spoke briefly with indieWIRE. Not ready to detail his upcoming plans for pursuing more writing and filmmaking, Jones noted that he'd been with the organization for ten years and that it was time for him to move in another direction.

The news of Jones' resignation came in the wake of a series of recent layoffs and resigations at The Film Society. As was recently reported in indieWIRE, the economy lead the Film Society to cut its staff by nearly 25% one month ago, including the job of producer of arts programming Joanna Ney, after the departures of Jeanne Berney, Blair Hartley, Nancy Kelly, and Maria Laghi.

Staff shifts have been continuous since the arrival of new executive director Mara Manus in September.

Acknowledging that Manus' new vision and management structure, as well as the state of the economy, are driving the changes at the organization, chairman and program director Richard Pena told indieWIRE the Film Society's committment to its core principles remains steadfast and he added that he is being supported by the new emerging administration. He spoke of an open and non-threatening environment at The Film Society, even as many others have spoken much less optimistically off the record.

The changes at the organization, coupled with rumblings of frustration and fear within the organization, have left many people in the industry to gossip and speculate about the group. Morale among numerous insiders and observers has seemed quite low recently and the organizational changes have been a persistent topic within the film community.

"People shouldn't be worried," Pena added today, when asked to react to the ongoing concerns being expressed within the film community. He reiterated multiple times that the Film Society's "committment to the kind of broad-based, international, classic and independent cinema remains as strong as ever."

“Change is unsettling for everyone,” Mara Manus acknowledged in the recent indieWIRE article by Anthony Kaufman. He reported in the piece that moving forward, she has promised her remaining staff that she will “work transparently and collaboratively.”

TAGS: New York

8 Comments

  • hardy jenns | March 13, 2009 3:27 AMReply

    Thanks for the input, kev5000. Keep sucking up that oxygen. I'll pass on your kind words to the "Lincoln Plaza Film Society."

  • kev5000 | March 13, 2009 1:03 AMReply

    Just long as Lincoln Plaza Film Society keeps programming Shaw Bros movies is all I care about.

    The New York film scene is changing quickly, maybe its good that Manus came along. But if she is only going to play pretentious, high-brow "art" films, count me out .

  • reddiaper | March 12, 2009 5:59 AMReply

    What happened to the process of honoring the people who spent many years building a successful organization?? If this were academia, they would be made "emeritus", offered some consultant arrangement, and given a big party to thank them for their service!

    FSLC was one of the few non profits to invest in their staff, promote them, and train them. Dumping people is lousy management -- and leaves organizations with no insitutional memory. Not to mention discouraging anyone good to want to work for them...

  • howien212 | March 12, 2009 5:48 AMReply

    And for those who care, Manus is now hiring theatre people to fill all of the of the PR and marketing spots open by those who were fired or resigned. She already hired a former employee from the Shakespeare Festival to do marketing. This new hire has no knowledge of film history and from what I was told, wasn't even interested in learning. I am willing to say that within a year, Richard Pena will either resign or be driven out by Manus. You wait and see.

  • martin dantich | March 12, 2009 5:34 AMReply

    And there already have been, howien, as other articles have mentioned. In one case, someone was fired who has worked there for decades and was two years away from retirement age. Yes, I also have heard nothing but bad things about this Maria Manus, though I've never met her myself.

  • howien212 | March 12, 2009 4:23 AMReply

    You can blame it all on Mara Manus. She created the same hostility and animosity when she was over that the New York Shakespeare festival. She truly is a mean and terrible woman who cares only for herself which was why she was finally fired from her previous job. I can almost guarantee that there will be more layoffs and resignations in the future.

  • filmenthusiast2000 | March 12, 2009 3:31 AMReply

    Well, at least I'll never have to go all the way up there to see a really-well-curated series ever again.

  • martin dantich | March 12, 2009 2:53 AMReply

    Oh God, what will become of Film Society and NYFF programming without him? This is terrible news for NY film culture. Terrible.

    But good for him getting out when he did.