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Film Festival Today

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Rose Kuo: A Californian In New York

Written by: FFT Webmaster | June 17th, 2011

When the surprise announcement came last summer that Mara Manus, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, was leaving her post after less than two years on the job, all eyes turned to a Californian who was to be her successor. While Rose Kuo was well known to the film industry in New York, she was a less familiar face on the New York cultural and governmental scene. That a non-New Yorker was suddenly in charge of securing the final financing for an ambitious expansion certainly aroused attention. However, Kuo’s professional background plus her fundraising abilities will reach their ultimate flowering this week, when the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center becomes a welcome addition to the New York film landscape.

It will be quite a moment for Rose Kuo and her team. Her film bona fides are tight….she has worked both in film festival programming as well as film production. As a programmer, Kuo worked for the Santa Barbara and Mill Valley film festivals, and also served as a consultant for the San Francisco International Film Festival and LA County Museum of Art. For three years, she served as the Artistic Director of Los Angeles’ AFI Fest, instituting its successful “free festival” in 2009. Before relocating to New York last summer, she co-founded the festival-consulting firm Festworks and has been serving as co-director of the Santa Fe Film Festival.

Rose Kuo and Richard Pena

Well versed in both international and American cinema, Kuo has worked on several independent films, as post-production supervisor on Maggie Greenwald’s THE KILLOFF and as executive producer on Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s THE FLUFFER. She possesses an extensive background as a filmmaker, having started as an assistant to Oscar-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker and as a camera assistant to famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Among a myriad of feature film credits spanning over twenty years, Kuo has also worked with such top directors as Michael Mann, Paul Schrader, Ed Zwick and Martin Scorsese.

At the time of her hiring, Daniel Stern, president of the FSLC board, was quoted as saying “that at a time when both audiences and media are changing radically, our goal is to expand into multiple platforms so that audiences can be a part of our film community anytime, anywhere. Rose has the particular experience and ability to lead that effort. We’re extremely fortunate that on the eve of the biggest expansion in the Film Society’s history, we could turn to Rose Kuo, who has just the right expertise in creating dynamic experiences where film programmers, filmmakers and audiences can interact.”

Sidney Poitier and Rose Kuo

Kuo’s first priorities were to oversee the opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, which will add two state-of-the-art cinemas to Lincoln Center, and to strengthen FSLC’s ties to its membership, donors and the film community in general. “The Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center will be a major cultural destination in New York City, and a symbol of tremendous growth and expansion for the Film Society,” she was recently quoted as saying. “Our goal is to utilize the Film Center as a springboard into the future as we expand across multiple platforms – a process that has already begun with a total relaunch of our website – so that audiences can be a part of our community and connect with the Film Society at any time, from anywhere around the globe.”

The additional theaters, plus a state-of-the-art media ampitheatre, will allow the Society to present a multitude of programs yearound; catering the screen size by the audience appeal of the program (the Society only has the single Walter Reade Theater at the moment). Starting June 17, there will be a mix of first run and repertory on screen, creating an amazingly rich resource for New York film lovers. The new set up will also have implications for the Society’s two major showcases, the New York Film Festival in October and New Directors/New Films in March (co-presented with the Museum of Modern Art). “We want to treat these theaters as one unit,” Ms. Kuo said, and “so that a film can have a life beyond that one festival screening.”

Asked about her hopes for the new Film Center, she expressed that “when we talk about people having a full cultural experience, that means not just film screenings, but also live performances, projections and exhibitions of experimental works and installations better suited for the amphitheater than a movie screen. We’ve built a physical space that, ironically, is going to allow us to expand beyond bricks and mortar.” For more information on the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s upcoming programs, visit: www.filmlinc.com

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