Cowan joins the org, which operates the San Francisco Film Festival, after five years as artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Bell Lightbox.
“His intimate knowledge of the international film scene and his many achievements in Toronto make him the perfect person to continue building on the Film Society’s mission of showcasing the best in world cinema, promoting media literacy in our schools and supporting exceptional independent filmmakers,” said David Winton, chairman of the society.
Cowan began at the Toronto festival in 1989 as a programmer for the Midnight Madness program and curated national cinema retrospectives on India and Japan. From 2004-08 Cowan was co-director of the festival with Piers Handling.
He also co-founded Cowboy Pictures and the Global Film Initiative in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art.
Hope started in the San Francisco post in September 2012, filling the slot left vacant by the death of Bingham Ray. He joined online movie service Fandor as CEO last month.