Palm Springs Fest Shake-Up: Michael Lerman Named Artistic Director

Michael Lerman - Getty - H - 2016
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The Toronto Film Festival programmer will succeed Helen du Toit, who oversaw the most recent edition of the fest.

In a shake-up at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Michael Lerman has been named artistic director and has been put in charge of overseeing artistic decisions at the fest, which will next be held from Jan. 2-16.

He will succeed Helen du Toit, who served as interim festival director during the most recent edition of the event earlier this year.

Lerman comes to PSIFF from the Toronto International Film Festival, where he currently is acting head of programming and primetime programmer. He also serves as the artistic director of the Philadelphia Film Society, where he has worked since 2005.

"Michael Lerman is a young but very seasoned film festival veteran who brings a keen eye for identifying and curating remarkable films and filmmaker talent. He is an exemplary match for the Palm Springs International Film Festival," Palm Springs International Film Society chairman Harold Matzner said Thursday in announcing the appointment. "We were very impressed with his programming work at the Toronto International Film Festival and are honored to have him join our Palm Springs team."

Lerman, who will report to Matzner, will work alongside the festival's managing director, Rhea A. Lewis-Woodson.

As this past January’s PSIFF got underway, Matzner announced that Darryl MacDonald, the longtime executive director of the festival, was taking a medical leave and that du Toit, who had been working alongside MacDonald as artistic director, would take on the title of acting festival director. She also served as director of ShortFest, the festival of short films that the Film Society presented in June. According to a rep for the festival, her contract was not renewed.

Sept. 8, 6 p.m.: Updated to include responses from a spokesman for the festival.