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Film Society names new heads

Jones to top NYFF programming; Koehler heads FSLC

A duo with longstanding film-industry ties, both as film writers and as festival programmers, have been tapped to fill the top programming spots at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, with Kent Jones set to become the director of programming for the New York Film Festival and Robert Koehler stepping into the post as year-round programming director of FSLC.

Duo replace the exiting Richard Pena, who exits both posts later this year. Pena has led FSLC and NYFF for 25 years.

The multiplication of a solo job into two gigs comes as a bit of a surprise, since FSLC’s programming activities have been headed up by a single person for so long. But according to the org’s exec director Rose Kuo, Film Society opted to hire two people instead of one in order to keep pace with FSLC’s expanding roster of programming and activities in its new multi-screen venue, the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.

Longtime film writer Jones, whose work has appeared in outlets around the world, has a fest programming resume that includes a decade-long gig as associate director of programming at the Film Society, where he worked from 1998 to 2009. From 2002 to 2009, he also was on the NYFF selection committee.

He has also collaborated with Martin Scorcese on docs including 2001 outing “My Voyage to Italy,” which he co-wrote, and the 2010 film “A Letter to Elia,” which Jones co-wrote and co-directed with Scorcese.

Koehler’s work as a critic has appeared in a number of publications, including Variety, while his L.A.-based programming initiatives have included UCLA Extension’s Sneak Preview program and a series of screenings showcasing pics that had not previously played L.A. He’s also been the director of programming at AFI Fest Los Angeles.

Jones and Koehler come aboard FSLC just as NYFF, the 50-year-old festival run by the org, gears up for its Sept. 28 opening. Pena had announced at the end of last year’s edition that he would be stepping down after the 2012 outing of the annual event. The jobs will be fully handed over to the new hires at the start of the calendar year.

“Kent is one of the best minds in terms of film criticism and film theory, Bob has a voracious appetite for exploring new talent from all corners of the world, and they’re both serious film historians,” Kuo said. “It’s an exciting blend.”

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