Richard Pena to Step Down From Posts at Film Society of Lincoln Center, New York Film Festival

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The longtime program director, who heads the festival's selection committee, will stay with the festival through next year's 50th edition before making the move.

Richard Pena, the longtime program director for the Film Society of Lincoln Center as well as head of the selection committee for the New York Film Festival, will step down from both posts next year at the conclusion of the 50th edition of the festival.

Dan Stern, president of the FSLC’s board of directors, announced the changing of the guard Sunday night just before a gala screening of The Descendants, the closing-night film at this year’s festival.

By the end of next year’s fest, Pena will have served in both roles for 25 years. However, he will continue to be involved with the Film Society, which presents the annual festival and plans to "help design and organize a new educational initiative."

“For the past 24 years, Richard Pena has served as the chairman of the selection committee for the festival as well as the program director of the Film Society," Stern said. "Richard has informed the board that at the end of 2012 -- after the festival’s 50th anniversary, and his 25th at its helm -- he will step down from both posts. Richard has been with the Film Society through the opening of the Walter Reade Theater as well as the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and we are pleased that he has accepted our invitation to stay on to help create a new educational initiative at the Film Society."

Added Pena: “Heading into the 50th anniversary of the festival, it seems a perfect time for a transition, both for me personally and for the organization. Working at the Film Society has been beyond a ‘dream come true,’ but in the years left me I would like to possibly explore other areas of interest, both within and beyond the cinema. I also feel that, like at any other cultural institution, change can be important, as it will bring in fresh ideas and approaches to lead the Film Society into its next 50 years.” 

FSLC executive director Rose Kuo said: “Richard Pena has been a shining light for more than two decades at the Film Society, guiding us in the discovery of artists like Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh, Lars Von Trier, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Hong Sang Soo and many more. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Richard, and I am delighted that he will continue with us as he transitions to a new period in his career and life.”