Concluding a nearly year-long search, the Museum of Modern Art has named Rajendra Roy the Chief Curator for its Department of Film. The Artistic Director of the Hamptons International Film Festival and a member of the international competition selection committee for the Berlin International Film Festival, Roy previously served as a Program Manager in the film department at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and was the executive director of MIX: The New York Lesbian and Gay Experimental Film/Video Festival. On July 2nd, Roy will officially join MoMA as the Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of the Department of Film, succeeding Mary Lea Bandy who retired from the museum in 2006 after serving as the head of the film department for 26 years. He will remain an unpaid artistic advisor to the Hamptons fest through the end of this year’s event.
“Rajendra Roy brings to the Museum a breadth of experience that encompasses museum work as well as programming and management for important film festivals,” said Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art, in a statement. “His broad involvement in the film community will be invaluable to the development of the Film Department’s programs, including acquisitions, exhibitions, research, and preservation.”
At MoMA, Raj Roy will run one of the leading film collections in the world (comprised of some 22,000 titles) and manage a department responsible for year-round programs and events, including the annual New Directors/New Films Series (presented with The Film Society of Lincoln Center), yearly showcases of work from Germany, Brazil, and Canada, and other annual programs that screen more than 700 films each year. One of seven chief curators who each head the various distinct divisions of the museum, Roy will lead a department of twenty people, including Senior Curator Larry Kardish, curator Jytte Jensen, assistant curator Sally Berger, and assistant curator Josh Siegel.
Talking with indieWIRE today, just a few hours before tonight’s public annnouncement, Roy said that he was both humbled by the appointment and thrilled to begin working with the film department staff at MoMA. Calling it, “the professional opportunity of a lifetime,” he said, “I am incredibly honored and I am filled with a deep sense of responsibility for a program that is one of the essential elements of film culture.”
Touting the role of MoMA as a “a place of real contemplation,” Roy expressed a committment to engaging filmmakers, audiences, and the film industry itself in an exploration of both classic and contemporary cinema. “For me, the critical element of the Film Department is the access to history,” Roy emphasized, adding that there is also, “the opportunity to bring the contemporary, the past and the cross cultural lines together in an accessible way.”
Roy’s departure from the Hamptons International Film Festival comes at a time of considerable change for the festival. The Hamptons fest board is currently conducting a search for a new Executive Director following the recent departure of Denise Kassell. “Professionally, for me, it’s been the most rewarding opportunity of my career so far,” Roy said, praising the staff and the audiences that have supported the successful event. “I know there is a very strong desire for the festival to continue,” Roy told indieWIRE, adding that he expects the event to, “continue to grow in prestige and stature.”
Reflecting on his move to MoMA, Roy noted that the Museum of Modern Art is both “embracing change and redefining modernity,” noting that his appointment is specifically a reflection of the importance of the contemporary independent film movement. “It’s really an honor for me to bring the independent film movement of the ’90s with me to this new place,” Roy said, adding that he was drawn to programming by recent waves of filmmaking that have, “opened up my eyes and changed my life through watching movies.”
But he cautioned, “It’s not about a single point of view — it is about providing a base of energy and a platform for new and exciting ways of looking at cinema.”