By Eugene Hernandez | Indiewire November 24, 2009 at 7:36AM
Longtime independent film producer Joana Vicente, a member of the executive search committee for a new head of the IFP, has been named the interim head of the organization. She will join IFP next week to work on the transition with Michelle Byrd and will lead the New York based independent film organization until a permanent replacement can be found.
The move to appoint an interim leader - rather than a permanent one - came as a surprise today, given that the organization had been expected to unveil its new head as Michelle Byrd left the organization in early December.
Byrd, who lead the IFP for more than twelve years, announced her departure back in June and an executive search began but has not yet yielded a new permanent leader for the thirty year old group. When she broke the news of her plan to leave back in the summer, Michelle Byrd indicated that she notified the IFP board last year that she would not renew her two-year contract. Her last day at IFP will be next Friday, December 4th, after she concludes work on Monday's 2009 Gotham Awards.
In recent weeks, film community insiders began buzzing about a new IFP Executive Director being chosen and word spread that an announcement was pending. More recently however, the search firm (TimeWarner Worldwide Recruitment & Executive Search) was reaching out to new individuals in the film community, stirring buzz that a new leader was not actually on deck.
The IFP staff was briefed on the appointment today, but no one from the organization's leadership has been availble to discuss the decision on the record in the wake of this afternoon's formal announcement. indieWIRE will continue to pursue the story.
Vicente, with her husband Jason Kliot, has been a leading New York film producer. She and Kliot have made independent movies with their Open City Films, Blow Up Pictures and HDNet Films labels, working with emerging and established filmmakers for a number of years on some 40 feature films.
"As a European filmmaker yearning to produce films in New York it was the IFP that first showed me a path towards my future career," VIcente said, in a statement released today. "The IFP’s workshops, panels and networking opportunities helped me find a way through the complex maze of independent film production, always supporting me in my quest for knowledge, talent and material. I am honored to be able to serve such a vital organization that has been so crucial to my own professional development and to that of my many colleagues in the independent film movement."
-- today's IFP press release is available on the next page --
IFP NAMES JOANA VICENTE INTERIM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Vicente to replace Michelle Byrd on an interim basis effective December 1st, 2009
New York, NY (November 24, 2009) – The Board of Director of the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), announced today the appointment of Joana Vicente as Interim Executive Director of the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers. Vicente currently serves on the board of IFP and has been part of the executive search committee to replace departing Executive Director Michelle Byrd, who announced her resignation earlier this year.
Vicente will take over as Executive Director effective December 1st, 2009 and work with Byrd throughout the month of December to ensure a smooth transition. IFP will continue the search effort for a successor to Byrd next year with Vicente serving as Interim Executive Director until a permanent replacement is found. During that time Vicente will manage the IFP, continue fund raising efforts, and carry forward key elements of the organization’s strategic plan.
“Michelle has been with the organization for 16 years and filling her shoes has proven to be a Herculean task,” said Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, IFP Board Chairman. “Given Michelle's imminent departure, the search committee decided more time was needed to find the ideal successor, and we are thrilled that Joana has agreed to serve as the Interim Executive Director. Her long standing commitment to and intimate knowledge of IFP, as well as her business, film, and non-profit experience makes her an extremely qualified candidate for the position. The Executive Committee is overjoyed at her willingness to serve in this capacity, and could not imagine a better candidate for the position. We also hope Joana will consider putting herself forward as a candidate for the permanent position.”
Joana Vicente said, “As a European filmmaker yearning to produce films in New York it was the IFP that first showed me a path towards my future career. The IFP’s workshops, panels and networking opportunities helped me find a way through the complex maze of independent film production, always supporting me in my quest for knowledge, talent and material. I am honored to be able to serve such a vital organization that has been so crucial to my own professional development and to that of my many colleagues in the independent film movement.”
Joana Vicente has been a producer on over 40 features films by such acclaimed directors as Jim Jarmush, Brian de Palma, Alex Gibney, Miguel Arteta, Hal Hartley, Nicole Holefcener, Katherine Dieckmann and Todd Solontz. Throughout her career she has championed first-time filmmakers and produced a number of successful debut features such as Tony Bui’s triple Sundance winner Three Seasons, Jim Simpson’s The Guys, and Joby Harold’s Awake.
Vicente has presided over the creation and management of three production companies: the New York-based Open City Films and the pioneering digital companies Blow Up Pictures and HDNetFilms which she co-founded with her husband Jason Kliot, Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner. Throughout her professional career, Vicente has displayed a proven track record of raising capital and managing organizations efficiently and with extreme economy. In 2007 she was personally honored by Mayor Michael Bloomberg with a Made in NY award, given to individuals who have made significant contributions to the City’s entertainment industry. Prior to founding Open City, Blow Up Pictures and HDNet Films, Joana worked as the head of the Lusophone Radio at the United Nations, and at the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg as the press attaché, executive assistant and speechwriter for Parliamentary Delegate Maria de Lourdes Pintassilgo, the former Prime-Minister of Portugal. Vicente has also served as co-chair of the New York Based non-profit organization City Harvest’s Bid Against Hunger annual benefit and has actively raised funds for the organization.
Continuing to lead the executive search process on behalf of IFP’s Board of Directors will be the Media Executive Search Team at Time Warner, led by Andrew LaValle and Joerg Ziegler. For information on applying for IFP’s Executive Director position, please contact:
Joerg M. Ziegler
Worldwide Recruitment & Executive Search
The announcement of Vicente as Interim Executive Director comes a week before the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ which will be held at Cipriani Wall Street on Monday, November 30th. The Gotham Independent Film Awards™, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition. For more information about this year’s awards and a full list of nominees and honorees please visit http://gotham.ifp.org.
About Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP)
After debuting with a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the nonprofit IFP has evolved into the nation's oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, and also the premier advocate for them. Since its start, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers' voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP believes that independent films broaden the palette of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism.
Currently, IFP represent a network of 10,000 filmmakers in New York City and around the world. Through its workshops, seminars, conferences, mentorships, and Filmmaker Magazine, IFP schools its members in the art, technology, and business of independent filmmaking (there are special programs to promote racial, ethnic, religious, ideological, gender, and sexual diversity). IFP builds audiences by hosting screenings, often in collaboration with other cultural institutions and also bestows the Gotham Independent Film Awards™, the first honors of the film awards season. When all is said and done, IFP fosters the development of 350 feature and documentary films each year.