Film4 Chief Tessa Ross to Step Down

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The head of Channel 4's drama unit and film division leaves to oversee administration at Britain's National Theatre, alongside incoming artistic director Rufus Norris.

LONDON – Tessa Ross will step down from her role as Channel 4 controller of film and drama later in 2014 after 13 years.

Ross, who heads up the broadcaster's stand-alone movie unit in addition to its drama interests, has been appointed chief executive of the National Theatre of Great Britain. Beginning November in that new post, she will flank the National's current director, Nicholas Hytner, through to the end of his long-running tenure early next year. Rufus Norris will step into that role in April 2015.

Ross's Channel 4 duties have led her to have a hand in nurturing filmmakers in their debut moviemaking efforts, including Chris MorrisFour Lions, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges, Joe Cornish’s Attack the Block, Sam Taylor-Wood’s Nowhere Boy and Richard Ayoade’s Submarine.

She also has developed longstanding working relationships with established British filmmakers such as Danny Boyle, Shane Meadows, Mike Leigh, Michael Winterbottom, Roger Michell, Kevin Macdonald and most recently helped celebrate McQueen's 12 Years a Slave Oscar success.

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Channel 4 chief executive David Abraham said: "Tessa has made as big a contribution to Channel 4 as anyone in its history. I would like to personally thank her for her extraordinary commitment, talent and leadership over 13 remarkable years."

Abraham name-checked several upcoming projects championed by Ross and her team, including Todd HaynesCarolAlex Garland’s Ex Machina and Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth.

Abraham said Ross' exit will not affect the broadcaster's commitment to investing in movies.

"Tessa’s job is one of the most coveted in film, both in the U.K. and internationally, and while she leaves big shoes to fill, we will shortly begin the task of identifying a new leader for the next chapter of Film4’s story," the exec stated. "Meanwhile, our commitment to investing in independent British film remains undimmed and we have every intention of building on the extraordinary reputation Tessa has created."

For her part, Ross said she was excited to be joining the National Theatre "but it is with a heavy heart I leave this wonderful organization [Channel 4] and the brilliant people I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work beside over the past 13 years."

Said Ross: "I leave behind a dedicated, passionate team at Film4 -- not only colleagues but true friends -- and an important organization in its mother Channel 4. It’s been an absolute honor to work with the writers, directors, producers and the many other talented people I’ve collaborated with during my time here, relationships I look forward to continuing."

Ross will remain in her post until September 2014, and will stay on as chair of the Growth Fund Advisory council once in her new role.

Ross joined Channel 4 in 2000 and became head of Film4 in 2003, followed by controller of film and drama in 2008.

Current films backed by Film4 on release include Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin with Scarlett Johansson and Starred Up, directed by David Mackenzie.

During her earlier stewardship of Channel 4 Drama, Ross successfully implemented a strategy that cemented a drama reputation based on risk and innovation.

Pieces commissioned during that time include Shameless, Teachers, Not Only But Always, White Teeth, No Angels and Sex Traffic.