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SF Film Society Gets New Chief
by Tom Mayer
Ted Hope takes the helm of the SF Film Society promising his monumental production skills to bear on the dream of making the area a true film market. photo: Chris Lee
After a tumultuous year, which included the untimely passing of two directors, Graham Leggat and Bingham Ray, the San Francisco Film Society named Ted Hope as its new Executive Director effective September 1.
A producer for twenty years, The Hollywood Reporter called him one of the top 25 players in indie film. Indeed, three of Hope's films took the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance: "What Happened Was..." (1994), "The Brothers McMullen" (1995) and "American Splendor "(2003).
"The film world—be it in content, creation, business or audience—has changed significantly over the last twenty years and we all must change with it,” said Hope, upon his appointment. "It’s time that the film industry looked not just to Hollywood but instead to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley."
"The San Francisco Film Society is a major artistic voice positioned right in the heart of this vibrant cultural location," he continued. "This unique opportunity to work with the Film Society’s diverse communities is an extension of producing in the fullest of ways—allowing me to engage with the art form as a whole, at every level of activity."
"I am deeply honored and humbled to continue the extraordinary legacy of Bingham Ray and Graham Leggat," he added. "[It] is evident in SFFS’s dedication to empowering artists, to get their work not just made but also truly appreciated.”
"No one in the film industry is better positioned to lead us into the next phase of the San Francisco Film Society’s evolution than Ted Hope," said Melanie Blum, interim direector since Ray's sudden death at the Sundance Film Festival in January. "His vision for the Film Society—which bridges the legacy of the organization as a champion of independent and international cinema and its potential to be a leading force in the future of moving-image media—is exciting to us all.”
The New People's Cinema in Japantown was Leggat's big step towards a 'permanent festival' but whether the project will be continued is still up in the air—to be decided around Aug 31. photo: Daichi Ano
There has been a lot of change at SFFS of late. Ironically, the announcement of Hope’s accepting the leadership role came just a few days after the departure of longtime and much beloved publicity director Hilary Hart.
Hope has worked with an incredible array of maverick filmmakers—Ang Lee, Hal Hartley and Michel Gondry—and produced groundbreaking films, including "Brokeback Mountain", "Lust/Caution", "Happiness", "Milk", Todd Solondz’s "Dark Horse", John Waters’ "A Dirty Shame", Sean Durkin’s "Martha Marcy May Marlene", and Greg Mottola’s "Adventureland".
To do this, Hope cofounded the Good Machine, a production and distribution company in the early 1990s, with James Schamus and, together with Anne Carey and Anthony Bregman, they created the This Is That Corporation, another leader in the field in 2002. It later merged with USA Films to become Focus Features. Hope has worked on over 40 films and has created many film
In 1994, Hope and Schamus were awarded the prestigious Independent Spirit Brian Greenbaum Memorial Award for Producing, two years later the Gotham Producer of the Year award, then, in 2001, the NYC Crystal Apple Award. The Maui Film Festival honored Ted in 2004, the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2006 and he received the Maverick Award at the Sarasota Film Festival in 2008.
At the same time, he has been jurying on lots of festivals—Sundance, Miami and Bahamas International—even the Disposable Film Festival in San Francisco (2011), indicating a dedication to alt-film. Perhaps more importantly, Hope has been lecturing throughout the world and speaking at numerous film industry events, most recently the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore and as the keynote speaker at Film Independent's annual Filmmaker Forum in 2008. He is also a regular panelist for the Independent Feature Project.
Hope will move to San Francisco with his wife, filmmaker Vanessa Hope. Although we welcome them, we better not wish him well. Indeed, in light of the what transpired with the previous two Executive Directors, we say most emphatically: Break a leg!
Posted on Aug 13, 2012 - 03:11 PM