Longtime program director staying on until end of 2012

The New York Film Festival wrapped Sunday night with Richard Pena, the longtime program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the head of the fest’s selection committee, announcing he will step down at the end of 2012 — the event’s 50th year.

His 25-year tenure at the Film Society has included the opening of the org’s Walter Reade Theater as well as the new Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, which added two more screens to this year’s fest programming. Pena has overseen influential NYFF spotlights on filmmakers Pedro Almodovar, Mike Leigh and Lars Von Trier, among others.

Pena announced his departure at the screening of fest closer, “The Descendants.” He wants to pursue other opportunities, and said the fest’s 50th anniversary seemed a good time to transition. Pena will remain affiliated with the Film Society, designing and organizing a new educational initiative.

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