Wake-Up Call: Film festival, take two

When I last spoke with Tom Botelho, he was in an airport lounge, looking at Gerard Depardieu (foreshadowing!), heading to Europe on a family vacation, and not talking about anything but that.

He was certainly not talking about the rumor that he was about to be named the new executive director of the Denver Film Society, a post that the former Denver Post marketing exec had held on an interim basis a year ago, back when the organization was conducting a national hunt for a new director. It came up with Bo Smith, bringing him in from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts just in time for last November's Denver International Film Festival, and within a few months, the organization was in a shambles. Even a mediator couldn't smooth out the situation, and by the end of May, more than twenty employees had turned in their resignations.

It took three emergency board meetings, but finally boardmembers realized that when twenty employees resign from an arts group in these tough economic times, it's not just because of a personality conflict, not just because they can't adapt to change. It's because the changes are wrong. And in June, the board let Smith go.

That could have sent the search committee back to the drawing board, but instead, they came up with the idea of actually hiring Botelho to do the job he'd already done. To hire some local talent.

And today, the Denver Film Society will officially announce that Botelho -- tanned, rested and ready after his vacation -- is the new executive director of the society. Good thing he's a master marketer, because he has his work cut out for him, promoting the festival not internationally -- where it already has a good reputation -- but rebuilding bridges here at home.

Executive director, take two. Action!

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