Lesli Klainberg Named Interim Head of Film Society as Rose Kuo Steps Down

Posted by Brian Brooks on 12.18.2013

Rose Kuo is stepping down as Executive Director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the organization said this morning. Lesli Klainberg, currently Managing Director of the Film Society, has been named Interim Executive Director and Kuo (pictured above earlier this year with her son, Julian Kuo Gross) will consult with the Film Society's Board of Directors through the first quarter of 2014 during the transition.

Lesli Klainberg (pictured, right) has been Managing Director of the Film Society for two years and produced the last three New York Film Festivals. She is the fifth woman to lead the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which was founded in 1969. Joanne Koch headed the group for more than 32 years (from 1971 to 2003), she was succeeded by longtime FSLC fundraiser Claudia Bonn who served as executive director for five years. In 2008, Mara Manus joined the Film Society from New York's Public Theater and was replaced by Rose Kuo two years later.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to steward the Film Society through an amazing period of transformation and growth into new frontiers," Rose Kuo said in a statement, "After the successful opening of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, the milestone celebrations of the 50th New York Film Festival and Film Comment magazine, the 40th Chaplin Award Tribute and New Directors/New Films, and this year's installation of a new creative team, the organization is now in a perfect place for me to make my own transition."

Kuo appointed Dennis Lim as Head of Cinematheque programming earlier this year and last year named Kent Jones the Director of Programming for the 51 year old New York Film Festival. The duo replaced Richard Peña who headed the artistic side of the organization for twenty five years.

"Leading the Film Society has been one of the most interesting, rewarding and enjoyable experiences I have ever had and it has opened many new and exciting opportunities," Kuo added in today's statement.

Kuo hired Klainberg in 2011, bringing her in to produce NYFF and then quickly appointing her to the Managing Director post at the organization.

Over the past two decades, Lesli Klainberg has lead non-profit organizations and worked as an award-winning producer and director of independent documentaries through her production company, Orchard Films. Her film credits include the 1997 acclaimed independent film, Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End, the 2011 SXSW Audience Award winner Beware of Mr. Baker, the 2013 PGA Award nominated A Place at the Table, as well as documentaries for IFC, AMC, PBS and A&E.

In 2008, Klainberg was named the Executive Director of NewFest, New York's LGBT Film Festival (which the Film Society has hosted for several years in conjunction with L.A.'s Outfest) and also worked as a Consulting Producer for the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and as the Producer of IFP's Independent Film Week Forum. In 2009, she was named Co-Leader of the organization's weeklong Documentary Finishing Lab and held the post for three years. Klainberg is a Founding National Board member of GLAAD and a former Board member of both Outfest and NewFest.

Kuo (pictured above with architect David Rockwell and former Film Society Program Director Richard Peña, as well as Chairman Ann Tenenbaum and President Dan Stern) was named Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center three and a half years ago. She had previously worked as Artistic Director of AFI Fest in Los Angeles and previously held programming roles at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and for the Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Mill Valley film festivals.

She managed the completion of fundraising and construction for the $41 million Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center - the Film Society's three screen complex that includes a cafe - which opened its doors on West 65th Street at Lincoln Center in the Summer of 2011. During her time at the Film Society, Rose Kuo is credited with revitalizing the organization with new initiatives and staff.

Ann Tenenbaum, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Board Chairman said, “Rose came on board with an expertise that was invaluable to this organization, and during a time when we needed this leadership the most. She has guided us through an incredible growth period, and we are thrilled to have been able to work so closely with her these last three and a half years.”

“The organization has accomplished a tremendous amount under the stewardship of Rose, and for that we are thankful. She leaves us with an exceptionally strong team, and in a position to now continue strengthening our relationships within the film community, build the profile of the organization overall and further solidify our theaters as important cultural destinations.” said Dan Stern, the Film Society of Lincoln Center Board President.

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