Kent Jones, now in his seventh year as director of the New York Film Festival, will step down from that position following this year’s 57th edition, the Film at Lincoln Center organization announced today.
Jones, whose career as a film director surged last year with the release of his first narrative feature Diane starring Mary Kay Place (Rotten Tomato score: 93), will continue to work with FLC in an advisory role. Film at Lincoln Center’s Executive Director Lesli Klainberg will oversee the transition of leadership for NYFF.
Jones has been associated with Film at Lincoln Center for more than two decades, including as a year-round programmer, a member of the festival’s selection committee, and contributor to Film Comment.
As director, Jones was credited with expanding the festival with sidebars and new sections including the Spotlight on Documentary and Convergence sections. His tenure saw the first selection of a documentary – Ava DuVernay’s 2016 film 13TH – as the festival’s opening film. The 2018 festival was the best attended to date.
“At some point when I was pretty young and already deep into movies,” Jones said, “the New York Film Festival became a beacon for me. Throughout its history, it has been a true home for the art of cinema—that was how it began with Richard Roud and Amos Vogel, that was how it remained with my predecessor Richard Peña, and that was how I’ve done my best to maintain it. I thank my colleagues, I thank the board for sticking to the original mission, I thank our audiences, I thank our colleagues in the industry, but most of all I thank the filmmakers. It’s been a joy and an honor to present their work.”
Exec director Klainberg praised Jones’ “knowledge and passion for the movies” and said the Board and staff of Film at Lincoln Center support his move “into the next phase of his career, making more of his own cinematic dreams come true, and we can’t wait to enjoy the results.”
Jones joined Film at Lincoln Center in 1998 as Associate Director of Programming, and from 2002 to 2009 he served on the New York Film Festival selection committee. He was a frequent contributor to Film Comment, where he was given the title Editor-at-Large. In November 2012, he was appointed Director of the New York Film Festival, and has served on fest juries around the world. He served as the Executive Director of the World Cinema Project from 2009 to 2012.
Jones’ writer and filmmaking credits include co-writer of Martin Scorsese’s documentary My Voyage to Italy, the writer and director of the 2007 film Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows, and the co-writer and co-director with Scorsese of the Peabody Award–winning 2010 film A Letter to Elia. Among other credits, he wrote and directed the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Diane had its world premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, winning Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay, and it was released in early 2019 by IFC Films.
In a tweet today, Jones thanked colleagues, audiences and, “most of all” the filmmakers: