Puttnam heading Film Distributors Assn.

Position has been vacant for two years

LONDON -- Former Columbia TriStar chief and movie industry veteran David Puttnam is the new president of U.K. theatrical film distribution trade organization the Film Distributors' Assn., a role that has been vacant for two years, the FDA said Monday.

Puttnam, whose producer credits include "Midnight Express," "Chariots of Fire" and "The Killing Fields," will be charged with championing the pivotal business of audience delivery at a time when film distribution is reshaping itself to embrace the challenges and opportunities of digital technology.

His previous roles include a stint as the National Film & Television School chair for 10 years, and he also chaired the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts for that organization's first six years.

"I believe passionately in the power of compelling stories, imaginatively told, as a force for social as well as economic good," Puttnam said. "As a rights owner, I clearly appreciate the essential role of distributors in connecting content with its audience. But I also recognize that the film business, like all media businesses, is in the throes of digital transition and if we fail to keep up, audiences will simply pass us by."

FDA chief executive Mark Batey said Puttnam "brings unparalleled expertise across a broad range of policy areas."