By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 17, 2009 at 8:30AM
Truth is, Geoff Gilmore has been looking to move on from running the Sundance Film Festival for some time. He has been toiling for 19 years in a powerful, influential job--in a non-profit sector. He was at one time attracted to the Warner Independent Pictures gig that went to Mark Gill. The good news with Gilmore's defection March 1 from director of the Sundance Fest to Creative Officer of Tribeca Enterprises, which mounts the Tribeca Film Festival: he's still inside his wheelhouse. He isn't going to pretend to know how to produce or finance movies. But he is excited to be expanding into a bigger arena: New York City. "I've done it for 19 years," says Gilmore on the phone from Dublin. "I'm not sure how much more I could have accomplished. With the problems the film industry faces and what's going on in the independent world, it's the end of a 30-year cycle of growth. There's a distribution bottleneck. It's exciting to me to figure ways to address all that."
Gilmore is trading one movie star boss, Robert Redford, for another, Robert DeNiro. And as Sundance has expanded--and may have peaked--Gilmore now takes on a film fest that has room to mature and grow, having never really found its identity. Could Tribeca give the granddaddy New York Film Fest a run for its money? Peter Scarlet will continue running the 12-day fest, which gets under way April 22. "I think this is a great move for Geoff," said Fox Searchlight's Tony Safford, who preceded Gilmore as Sundance Fest director. "It's a big stage in a big city."
Film Independent's Dawn Hudson agrees that Gilmore can now "play on a very big canvas at Tribeca," she says. "He's such a big thinker and cinephile. He fits into Tribeca's ethos." As for Sundance, the fest has a deep bench, she says. "Over Geoff's time there, he built an institutionalized stable, an ongoing enterprise. There's a deep bench of talent. Sundance is always moving forward. It's good for everybody." Gilmore's long-time lieutenant John Cooper is widely expected to take the Sundance Fest reins.
Also, Gilmore is not just supervising the film fest. He's taking on a larger creative role, building the Tribeca brand. Gilmore has long been excited about the potential for finding a new digital distribution paradigm for indie filmmakers. He likes the idea of getting entrepreneurial, he says, of "seeing how the festival can be transformed into another platform. The independent arena is transforming itself. It's a global enterprise. The innovation comes out of technology that works globally."
The official press release is on the jump:
For Immediate Release
GEOFFREY GILMORE TO JOIN TRIBECA ENTERPRISES
AS CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER
Former Director of Sundance Film Festival Will Lead
Global Content Development; Expansion of the Tribeca Brand
[New York, February 17, 2009] - Tribeca Enterprises today announced that it has hired Geoffrey Gilmore as its Chief Creative Officer. Gilmore's move to Tribeca comes after a 19-year career at Sundance that culminated in his role as Director of the iconic Sundance Film Festival. He will be responsible for Tribeca's global content strategy and lead creative development initiatives and expansion of the brand. Gilmore will also join the Board of Directors of Tribeca Enterprises. Tribeca Enterprises is the New York-based media company founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff that owns and operates the Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival International, Tribeca Cinemas and other branded-entertainment businesses and initiatives.
"As one of the most accomplished creative forces in our industry, Geoff is the ideal person to guide content development for Tribeca Enterprises," said Jane Rosenthal. "His talent and experience will benefit Tribeca immeasurably, particularly in creating new strategic alliances and opportunities such as our recently announced Tribeca Film Festival Doha. We are delighted that Geoff is moving to New York to join Tribeca at a time of unprecedented change in the world of film and media."
"I believe that Tribeca Enterprises is well positioned to develop a film organization that can create a new paradigm for the future," said Geoffrey Gilmore. "The vision of its leadership, its structure and resources, and the track record of its brief history give me great excitement at the opportunity to join their enterprise. I've had a wonderful nineteen years at Sundance and will always be grateful to Bob Redford. For me this is a big decision, a huge change and an enormous opportunity."
One of the film industry's most widely-trusted and influential figures, Gilmore was responsible at Sundance for film selection, artistic direction and general festival management. He was a programming consultant for Robert Redford and the Sundance Channel since its inception in 1996, consulted for and helped build the Sundance Group and the Sundance Film Series. Additionally, he created and directed the annual Sundance Independent Producers Conference and other major events and initiatives related to independent filmmaking and distribution.
Gilmore has been a universally recognized and acknowledged leader of the development of independent film in the U.S. and abroad. He shaped the landscape for Sundance that emerged as a platform for independent filmmakers and buyers since the early 1980s. He is credited with attracting break-out film sensations to Sundance such as Reservoir Dogs, Hoop Dreams, Little Miss Sunshine and Inconvenient Truth ‚Äì and discovering and launching the careers of emerging filmmakers.
Gilmore has extensive international experience and has served on numerous international film juries. He teaches a master class for the Ludwigsburg Film Academy and is a featured guest lecturer at many film schools and cultural institutions. He has also written extensively on the American independent film scene.
Prior to Sundance, Gilmore served as head of the UCLA Film and Television Archive's Programming Department for 15 years.
About Tribeca Enterprises
Tribeca Enterprises is a diversified multi-platform media company located in New York City. Established in 2003 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff, the company currently operates a network of branded entertainment businesses including the Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival International, and Tribeca Cinemas. The Company's mission is to provide artists with unique platforms to expand the audience for their works and to broaden the access point for consumers to experience independent film and media. Jonathan Tisch, through Walnut Hill Media, is a minority investor in Tribeca Enterprises and is a member of the Board of Directors.
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[Originally appeared on Variety.com]