Director ran event for three years

BUENOS AIRES — Fernando Pena has resigned as director of the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Film, four months before the biggest film event in Argentina unspools.

His departure will take effect Monday, leaving the 10th edition of the event — running April 8-20 — in the hands of an unidentified director.

Pena declined to continue in the post, citing a lack of political backing for the event, him and his team from the city’s new government. Soccer magnate Mauricio Macri took over as mayor of the capital Dec. 10, with seasoned politician Hernan Lombardi taking on oversight of the festival as minister of culture.

Pena ran the event for three years, seeing attendance rise under crisp organization but drawing complaints of weaker programming than in previous editions.

Fest has become a hot spot for seeing the latest films out of Argentina, which, with annual production of 70-80 features, has been cranking out commercial successes like “Nine Queens” and fest faves from directors like Lucrecia Martel (“The Swamp”), Israel Adrian Caetano (“Buenos Aires, 1977″) and Lisandro Alonso (“Liverpool”). Pablo Trapero’s “Mundo grua” (Crane World) was a big winner at the first event.

Festival runs Buenos Aires Lab (BAL), one of the world’s biggest markets for Europeans to find Latin American co-production projects, and Inter Cine, an international market for distributors, sales agents, international festival programmers and producers.

Ad businessman and fledgling film director Edi Flehner (“Rancho”) is tipped to take the post, a decision that was to be announced Wednesday at a press event that was inexplicably canceled. The uncertainty over the direction of the fest has spurred complaints from the likes of international film critics association Fipresci, which say the event needs autonomy so it isn’t subject to political whims.

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