Hernandez, who serves as deputy executive director of Film at Lincoln Center, is bolstering his responsibilities to include strategic direction and leadership of the New York Film Festival. He will also serve on the film festival’s selection committee. Film at Lincoln Center puts on the New York Film Festival, which first began in 1963.
“Knowing that Kent was going on to greener pastures as a filmmaker gave us a moment to think about where we see the festival going and what person we need to run it,” Film at Lincoln Center executive director Lesli Klainberg told Variety. “It was a very obvious thing to consider Eugene as a person to fulfill this role because of his experience, not only within the organization, but outside in the industry. He has deep contacts with artists and people in the business.”
Along with Hernandez’s appointment, Dennis Lim has been named director of programming for the festival, expanding his current role as director of programming for Film at Lincoln Center. In addition to overseeing programming for Film at Lincoln Center, he will now lead the programming strategy and chair the committee that selects the main slate. The complete selection committee, composed of Film at Lincoln Center staff and external programmers, will be announced in the spring.
Hernandez calls the New York Film Festival unique in the sense that it doesn’t have awards or competitions. Typically, 25 to 30 films premiere as part of the festival’s main slate. Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” kicked off last year’s edition, while Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” opened the festival in 2018. The lineup for the 58th edition — which runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 11 — has not been set yet.
“We don’t have specific rules and restrictions around how many premieres we have to have. It depends on what’s of interest to us and what we’re passionate about this year,” Hernandez said. “We will have many splashy films that include films and filmmakers that people have heard of and films and filmmakers that are new.”
Jones, who directed the 2018 feature “Diane,” exited the festival’s top role to pursue feature filmmaking. He still works with Film at Lincoln Center in an advisory position.
“He’s part of the extended family at this place, he’s a resource to us,” Hernandez said. “Kent is an inspiration in his approach — just being open to film in all of its forms.”