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Mile High Coup: Denver Film Society Ousts Embattled Leader; Erickson Named Interim E.D.

Indiewire By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire June 7, 2009 at 12:26PM

The Board of Directors at the Denver Film Society has decided to remove Bo Smith as executive director of the organization and Britta Erickson has been named interim executive director, indieWIRE confirmed this morning. Details of the decision are being hammered out in a meeting in Denver this morning, according to two sources.
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The Board of Directors at the Denver Film Society has decided to remove Bo Smith as executive director of the organization and Britta Erickson has been named interim executive director, indieWIRE confirmed this morning. Details of the decision are being hammered out in a meeting in Denver this morning, according to two sources.

The DFS board met on Friday and made the move, according to a report by the Denver Post. Britta Erickson, who served as interim E.D. prior to the hiring of Bo Smith last fall, had served as Festival Director and was subsequently named Associate Director once Smith took the reins at the Denver Film Society. She was one of the more than twenty people at DFS and the Denver International Film Festival who were leaving in a dramatic mass exodus that emerged last week in protest of Bo Smith, a twenty-one year veteran from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston who had lost the support of key DFS leaders and core staffers alike.

Late last week, Smith tried to woo back Erickson in the wake the emerging mutiny reported by indieWIRE and she swiftly rejected the overture, an insider told indieWIRE. She had intended to leave the Denver film organization later this month after concluding a previously programmed film series. Erickson's close colleagues, Ron Henderson who co-founded the organization more than thirty years ago and Brit Withey, her key deputy, also both quit in protest and were backed by staffers who contacted indieWIRE asking to be added to the list of those leaving.

Starz FilmCenter General Manager Oaken Beeson told indieWIRE last week that he was leaving after being ignored by the board, adding that he didn't, "want to be there as the organization destroys itself." Group founder Ron Henderson had put together a proposal for the organization's Board of Directors aimed at retaining core DFS leaders and saving the organzation from the impending exodus. Henderson presented it to the board a week ago but it was rejected in a narrow board vote supporting Bo Smith. He quickly decided to leave saying, in a statement to indieWIRE, “As the Denver Film Society begins a new era, it is clearly time for me (as they did so often in those Hollywood movies I watched as a child) to ride off into the sunset. My fervent hope is that the Denver Film Society, in this volatile transitional period, lives happily ever after.”

Henderson, Withey and others are expected to be back to work at the Film Society's Starz Film Center tomorrow, the Denver Post reported.

[Brian Brooks contributed to this report.]