BREAKING: Veteran indie film producer Ted Hope has been named executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. He will start the job September 1. It is a surprise move. But Hope will leave New York City, where he was a pillar of the indie film movement through Good Machine, This Is That and Double Hope Films, to lead the Film Society into the future.

Hope succeeds Bingham Ray, who spent 10 months as the San Francisco Film Society’s executive director for only ten weeks before his untimely death during the Sundance Film Festival last January. Ray had just started the effort to reinvigorate the Film Society, bolstering its theatrical programming at SF Film Society Cinema, streamlining its communications and exploring dynamic digital initiatives intended to expand the reach of its film festival programs and educational efforts.

Ray in turn succeeded Graham Leggat, who served as the San Francisco Film Society’s executive director from October 2005 to June 2011 before his death from cancer in August 2011. Leggat oversaw the transformation of the organization from an annual fifteen-day film festival producer into a year-round cultural institution with a national impact, significantly increasing activity in all programmatic areas. The Film Society is 55 years old this year.

Ted Hope is the perfect choice to build on the San Francisco Film Society’s already strong reputation for supporting filmmakers and its established excellence in exhibition and education.” said Pat McBaine, SFFS board president. “His absolute grasp of the current state of film culture, his innovative approach to each of his projects, his dedication to bringing artists’ visions to the screen and his bold plans for the Film Society are exciting to us all. We are truly fortunate to have one of the industry’s most creative thinkers take the helm going forward.”

Hope has produced close to 70 films, the most recent of which include Sean Durkin’s Martha Martha Marcy May Marlene and Todd Solondz’s Dark Horse. His films have: received two Oscar nominations for 2007’s The Savages, two Oscar noms and five BAFTA noms for 21 Grams, and five Oscar noms for In the Bedroom. Three of his 23 Sundance Film Festival entries–2003’s American Splendor, 1985’s The Brothers McMullen and 1994’s What Happened Was…, won the Grand Jury Prize.

“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. “It’s time that the film industry looked not just to Hollywood but instead to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, and San Francisco Film Society is a major artistic voice positioned right in the heart of this vibrant cultural location. 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, which is evident in SFFS’s dedication to empowering artists to get their work not just made but also truly appreciated, and by their support for the complete cinematic enterprise, process and community.”