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Rachel Rosen new director of programming at San Francisco Fest

Former Film Society Mainstay Returns to Help Lead Vastly Expanded and Enriched Organization As it Enters New Era of Growth

The San Francisco Film Society announces the appointment of Rachel Rosen as director of programming, effective August 10, 2009.

"We're thrilled to welcome Rachel back to a leadership role in the organization after her extraordinarily successful tenure in Los Angeles," said Graham Leggat, SFFS executive director. "Her intelligence, flair for innovation and keen eye for exciting new work are just what we need as we enter our next phase."

Rosen returns to SFFS after an eight-year stint as director of programming of Film Independent (FIND) and the Los Angeles Film Festival. During this time she expanded the Festival to include an eclectic slate of films reflecting the diversity of film art and of the city of Los Angeles. Attendance during her term at the Festival grew exponentially, from 35,000 to over 80,000. Her impact was enthusiastically endorsed by Scott Foundas in LA Weekly, who wrote that LAFF is "our most intelligent and ambitiously programmed-indeed our most essential-annual film event."

"Rachel's discerning eye, dazzling knowledge of film and support of independent filmmakers have been essential to the Festival's success during her years at Film Independent," said Film Independent's Executive Director Dawn Hudson. "I so appreciate Rachel's extraordinary talents and her unstinting commitment to the organization, and we wish her the best as she enters this new phase in her career."

Rosen steps in to fill the post recently vacated by Linda Blackaby, who joined the Film Society's programming department in November 2001, and left her position as director of programming on August 7, after eight years of commendable service. "One of the most respected film programmers on the international scene, Linda has played a primary role in the expansion and success of the Film Society in recent years," said Leggat. "She leaves behind many friends and admirers. We wish her all the best in her future endeavors."

Rosen dramatically increased the number and scope of international films presented at LAFF and instituted a special international sidebar that examined independent films from Argentina and China, as well as rare and lesser-known international animation, the work of Nigerian filmmaker Tunde Kelani and documentaries from Mexico's Ambulante Film Festival, among other highlights. She also brought to the Festival special programs with a live component including screenings with simultaneous commentary from cast and crew (Valley Girl, Hollywood Shuffle), silent films with live music from contemporary musicians such as Sparklehorse, J-Rocc, the RZA and the Nortec Collective, as well as a Buffy Big-Screen Interactive Extravaganza and a Swear-Along Scarface. During her tenure, LAFF featured the premieres of such films as Deliver Us from Evil, Loot, Mayor of the Sunset Strip and Rock School. Additional acquisitions from the Festival included August Evening, The Cool School and Young@Heart.

"I think what Graham and the Film Society team have accomplished in the past few years with both the San Francisco International Film Festival and year-round programming is incredibly exciting," said Rosen, "and I'm grateful to have a chance to be a part of it. I'm thrilled to be returning to an organization and a city that love great cinema."

Before joining FIND Rosen was associate director of programming at the San Francisco Film Society where she had been a film and video programmer since 1994. Rosen began her career in New York where she worked as a publicist in the film industry for five years. In 1988, she enrolled in Stanford University's prestigious documentary film program in the department of communication. While completing her thesis film, Rosen worked for the New York Film Festival as directors liaison and for SFFS in addition to working in various capacities on student and professional film productions.

In 1993, Rosen moved back to New York for a year to accept a position as programming and publicity associate at Film Forum, New York City's influential art house. Her short documentary on tornado chasers, Serious Weather, was shown at the San Francisco and Vancouver International Film Festivals and the British Short Film Festival. Rosen was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature from Brown University.

During her tenure, Blackaby oversaw SFFS festivals and other public exhibitions, maintaining a high level of curatorial quality as SFFS dramatically expanded its calendar to include year-round offerings. She also provided a bridge of programmatic excellence and assisted with administrative stability during major changes in leadership. The 2009 San Francisco International Film Festival, her most recent program, received critical and audience acclaim and enjoyed record attendance. Previously, Blackaby programmed the Hamptons International Film Festival on Long Island and was founding director of the Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. She came to the Bay Area in 1997 to advise the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. She is currently chair of the Princess Grace Foundation film panel in New York City.

"Getting to know and working with the San Francisco film community has been very meaningful to me," said Blackaby. "There is so much talent and expertise here, and such passion for good cinema, that it has been particularly gratifying to have contributed to the growth of the Festival and SFFS."

"I have been considering a short sabbatical for some time," she continued. "After eight years at the San Francisco Film Society I look forward to taking a little time to travel, read and take on new challenges. I wish all of my colleagues at SFFS the best."

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