Stephanie Allain is stepping down as director of the Los Angeles Film Festival after five years at its helm. Jennifer Cochis, who has been serving as the fest’s creative director, has been promoted to take over the director’s role.
Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the LA Film Festival and the Spirit Awards, announced the changes Friday, explaining that Allain, a producer whose credits range from Hustle & Flow to Dear White People, is returning to producing full-time.
In addition to her work at the festival, Cochis has produced such films as James Ponsoldt’s Smashed, Drake Doremus’ Douchebag, Marius Markevicius’ The Other Dream Team and Elise Salomon’s Los Wild Ones. She is a Sundance Institute Creative Producers Lab Fellow and was awarded the Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship. Currently, Cochis is the digital studio head for Joss Whedon’s Save the Day, a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC, which creates short videos that aim to get people out to vote.
“Jennifer Cochis is a brilliant new force on the festival scene and I am extremely happy to have her step into this new role,” Film Independent president Josh Welsh said in a statement. “She brings so much experience, intelligence and passion to everything she does. She’s worked closely with the mighty Stephanie Allain on the festival for the past two years, first as senior programmer and then as creative director, turning the festival into a powerful platform for discovering new and diverse talent.”
Allain, who emphasized increased diversity of the festival’s programming during her tenure, is in production on the Netflix series version of Justin Simien’s Dear White People, is in postproduction on Gerard McMurray’s Burning Sands and is prepping the Alfre Woodard vehicle Juanita, to be directed by Clark Johnson.
“It has been such an honor to shine a spotlight on women and directors of color, and leaving is bittersweet,” said Allain. “But I know that the festival is in extremely capable hands with Jennifer Cochis at the helm because she helped me build it.”
The 23rd LA Film Festival is set to run June 14-22 and is currently accepting submissions.