Yesterday the San Francisco Film Society broke some incredibly exciting news, announcing that indie bigwig Ted Hope would be stepping up to the plate as the new executive director of the San Francisco Film Society.
Let me offer this analogy for those to whom the impact of this isn't immediately apparent (or who don't spend as much time scrutinizing film credits as I do):
Ted Hope is to film as Raf Simons is to fashion. Actually, that doesn't quite capture it. How about: Ted Hope is to independent film as Steve Albini is to independent music. Maybe he's actually more like Phil Ek or Jim O'Rourke or...I digress--while helpful for soundbites, out-of-category analogies invariably under-perform when it comes to giving a real understanding of their constituents, so I'll give you the historical perspective:
For better or worse, indie is the new mainstream, and since the emergence of the American Indie as a serious filmic force in the early 90s, few characters have worked harder to bring new visions to major audiences or generated results as successfully and prolifically as has Mr. Hope.
Over the course of his career, he's produced over 60 projects and ushered to the screen the first efforts of noted directors including Michel Gondry, Hal Hartley and Ang Lee. In his current post as the driving force behind This Is That Corporation, Hope has been responsible for production on Towelhead, 21 Grams, and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as the most exciting indies of the last season including Sean Durkin's Sundance triumph Martha Marcy May Marlene and Todd Solondz's Dark Horse, which is now playing around town.
Prior to This Is That, he helmed the smartly named Good Machine, which produced a series of massive crossover hits including The Ice Storm, Adaptation, Dancer in the Dark, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and was bought by Universal in 2002. After the all-too-brief tenure of Bingham Ray it's hard to imagine someone better positioned to carry on the legacy of former executive director Graham Leggat than Ted Hope.
Hope will be coming to San Francisco as many of us do, from New York, to start his new position on the first of September and from the looks of it he's going to make a big impact, not only at Film Society but in the city at large. Try not to be caught beaming after you read this quote from the official release:
"The film world -- be it in content, creation, business or audience -- has changed significantly over the last twenty years and we all must change with it," said Hope. "It's time that the film industry looked not just to Hollywood but instead to the Bay Area and Silicon Valley, and San Francisco Film Society is a major artistic voice positioned right in the heart of this vibrant cultural location."
In addition to his work with the Film Society, here's hoping that Hope can bring a few more productions to the film-starved streets of San Francisco (so I can write about them!) which were still packed with camera crews back when he began his career as a producer in the early 90s.
This week has been an emotional one for the Film Society, witnessing not only Hope's announcement but also the departure of longstanding FS publicist Hilary Hart, herself an institution in the San Francisco film constellation. Ms. Hart, who Chron film critic Mick LaSalle generously nominated for position of ED in a spot-on tribute last week, was celebrated by coworkers, collaborators, and admirers with a tear and a smile at a packed get-together at Tosca in North Beach yesterday.