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Michael Lumpkin Replaces Jacqueline Lyanga as AFI Fest Director

After eight years, Jacqueline Lyanga has departed as director of the AFI Fest and is being replaced by Michael Lumpkin, who already heads the AFI Docs festival.

The American Film Institute, which made the announcement on Tuesday, indicated that it’s combining the jobs to make the organization more efficient. The executive shuffling was disclosed on the day before the opening of AFI Docs in the Washington, D.C., area.

The 51-year-old non-profit said both festivals will continue to operate separately, but year-round programming and operations will be combined to streamline efforts with studios, distributors, sponsors, and cultural partners.

“AFI has celebrated films at festivals since its founding more than 50 years ago,” AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said. “As the art form continues to evolve in exciting ways — so has the art of finding an audience, and this new structure will strengthen AFI’s voice on both coasts and across the nation.”

AFI Fest is now in its 32nd year and serves as a platform for launching awards-season titles during its one-week run in Hollywood, with screenings at the TCL Chinese and Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. “Mudbound” was the opening night film in November and “Molly’s Game” closed the festival.

Lumpkin has served as director of AFI Docs since 2015. Prior to AFI, Lumpkin was executive director of the International Documentary Association for six years, and headed Frameline, home of the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, for 25 years. He also produced HBO’s 1995 documentary “The Celluloid Closet.”

“I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to lead AFI’s portfolio of outstanding film festivals spanning the country and all film genres, from AFI Fest, now in its 32nd year, to AFI Docs in its 16th year, as well as other AFI film festival events,” Lumpkin said. “I look forward to working with all of AFI’s talented and dedicated exhibition staff on what will be stellar events in D.C. this month and in Hollywood in November.”

Lyanga, a graduate of the AFI Conservatory, is departing her role to pursue new opportunities, and will consult with AFI through June to ensure a smooth transition.

“It has been an amazing and extremely rewarding experience to be part of the festival’s growth in scope and influence as the director of AFI Fest for the past eight years,” Lyanga said. “My time at AFI goes back to 2005 during which I’ve seen this incredible organization continue to evolve and I have been able to work closely with a tremendous and passionate group of movie-lovers. I’m so proud of where we’ve taken the festival, and now I’m ready for new challenges and opportunities.”

Two other AFI execs — senior programmer Jenn Murphy and AFI Festivals coordinator Lily Niu — have also left for other jobs recently.

The news was first reported by IndieWire.

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