By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire March 11, 2009 at 11:58AM
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.”