After an extensive nationwide search — and a year that saw vibrant branding for the Sie FilmCenter, as well as one of the smoothest Denver Film Festivals on record — the Denver Film Society yesterday announced the appointment of a new executive director, Andrew Rodgers.
In March the former journalist and PR man will make the move to the Mile High City from North Carolina, where he has spent the past ten years growing the River Run International Film Festival; under his management, the festival has gone from a struggling nonprofit to a financially stable and well-respected outfit, increasing its revenues by 200 percent.
"We were extremely fortunate to have a very strong pool of candidates with impressive backgrounds that were interested in helping guide DFS in the years ahead” says Bob Clasen, search-committee chair and chair-elect of the board of directors for the Denver Film Society. “In the end, Andrew’s proven accomplishments in his current position, his reputation among film industry and festival peers and his vision for how the Denver Film Society and its programs could expand to impact even larger audiences, led our board to a unanimous vote for his appointment. We’re excited to welcome to him and get him started here in Denver in the coming months."
The executive-director role has been a tough puzzle piece to fit for Denver's own nonprofit film-festival organization over the past decade. During my time there as programming manager, from 2004 to 2014, I experienced many ups and downs, from the departure of Scott Rowitz in 2008 to the appointment of Bo Smith — who was dropped nine months later amid a massive staff walkout — to the elevation of boardmember Tom Botelho, who oversaw the Film Society’s transition from renting the Starz FilmCenter on the Auraria campus to owning a year-round cinematheque and headquarters: the Sie FilmCenter on East Colfax. Botelho departed last year.
The arrival of Rodgers comes as a breath of fresh air for the 38-year-old Denver Film Society: It's a great opportunity to push the rebranded Sie FilmCenter as our state’s best bastion of film entertainment, education and discourse, and to put a fresh spin on the beloved Denver Film Festival, which pulled off another successful year despite losing Starz Entertainment as its long-running title sponsor.
Along with deep publicity and business strengths, Rodgers brings an understanding of film and its many angles, since he's also a celebrated filmmaker — he's directed two short films, "Crooked Candy" (2014) and "Dark Station" (debuting in 2016) — and can look at cinema in ways that a strictly business-minded director might not. "I've known Andrew for a number of years and have followed his successful development as a respected industry leader and festival presenter," says Britta Erickson, festival director for the Denver Film Society. "His knowledge of film, his business acumen and his ability to attract support for film organizations will help us expand our reach even further."
Describing himself as both a strategic and operational leader with an ability to juggle his creative and business/management sides, Rodgers says he wants to motivate and lead a board of directors and staff with an ambitious but attainable vision for a Denver Film Society that has more impact on our community and our film future. "For many years, I've been a fan of the Denver Film Society and the role it has played in nurturing emerging filmmakers and presenting groundbreaking new cinema," says Rodgers. "In particular, I've been very impressed by the way DFS has been able to use its festivals, events and facility to bring communities together. I am incredibly honored to have been selected to help lead the organization forward and work alongside the talented staff to find even more ways to use the cinematic experience to entertain, educate, provoke, persuade, move and motivate audiences."
After settling things at River Run, Rodgers will take the reins at DFS in March, when a summer full of noted film programs — like Film on the Rocks, Cinema Q and the recently lauded CineLatino — will require his attention. And the 39th Denver Film Festival will be here before we know it.
Find out more about the Denver Film Society at denverfilm.org.