Estrin leaves AFI to consult, finish play


The American Film Institute's executive vp Jonathan Estrin is leaving the organization Sept. 28 after three years in the post. He will continue as a consultant for AFI on a variety of projects.

"Jonathan Estrin is a first-class person whose commitment and insights were particularly valuable to AFI during a transitional period," said outgoing AFI president and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg. Succeeding Firstenberg is Bob Gazzale, who assumes his new role Nov. 1.

Currently, Estrin is writing a stage play for Participant Prods., which takes a historic and contemporary look at activism. "This is a piece to inspire audiences," Estrin said, adding that it would include references to some famous and some lesser-known activists. He related that Participant is also talking with AFI about creating an activist film festival as part of its outreach efforts. Separately, Estrin is working on a number of consulting projects.

"I've had a satisfying experience (at AFI), and I'm quite proud of a number of things I've done here," Estin said, adding that he had approached the completion of a three-year contract. "It's time to move on and do something else."

During his tenure at AFI, Estrin was instrumental in designing the AFI Dallas International Film Festival, which debuted in March. He also initiated and oversaw the evolution of the AFI K-12 Screen Education Center into an online, nationally distributed resource for public school teachers and students. Estrin led the AFI response to Hurricane Katrina by creating a relationship with the University of New Orleans Film Department that continues today.