As Lincoln Center Film Society’s new head, Mara Manus, approaches her one-year-mark in office, there’s no doubt she’s left a noticeable wake already. Major staff cuts resulting the resignations of respected programmer Kent Jones and publicity vet Jeanne Berney hasn’t enamored Manus to the deep-rooted (and vocal) LCFS community.
With Gilmore stepping into Tribeca among talk of a fall move, a battle seems to be looming between LCFS’s stalwart New York Film Festival and its well-funded neighbor, Tribeca.
And this morning, Variety‘s Dade Hayes delivers more news that’s sure to get the noses crinkling more:
Her critics would not necessarily be heartened to know that Manus and other Film Society execs just wrapped a trip to L.A., where they met with agencies and studios — something the org has never done before in its history. “It’s important that we have that dialogue,” she said. “The studios aren’t just making ‘Bachelor Party.’ “
The reference to Fox’s 1984 Tom Hanks comedy isn’t random. Before her long run at the Public and before that at the Ford Foundation, Manus worked as a production exec at Universal, reporting to comedy maven Sean Daniel, a Universal exec who oversaw “Animal House.”
One day Daniel told her she had to see Hanks, then an emerging star, in the Joe Roth-helmed “Bachelor Party.” “I laughed so hard at that screening,” she recalled.
Fest times are changing. We have moved from the importance of the festival message to the role of a fest personality. It’s not enough for a fest to advertise its love for foreign or indie film. That message is part of every festival marketing kit. Now, festivals and their organizations seem to be cultivating personalities — marquee names that will get them what they want. And what they want these days is pretty plain — financial stability.
Among the few names I know of that were up for job Manus got, it’s clear the org hired her to shake things up; to move them into another direction — profitability. She’s not a cineaste. She’s a bottom-line person. Yet every time Manus shakes, the cineastes get pissed. And for a city that’s so identified for its cranky, film-loving residents — who covet their black-tie fest (as they should) — Manus and the org should realize it’s part of the job.
It’s also part of the job to listen to them.