Dennis Lim at the New York Film Festival. Photo by Godlis

Critic and progrmamer Dennis Lim will join the Film Society of Lincoln Center as Director of Cinematheque Programming on April 1, 2013. 

The Film Society announced Monday that Robert Koehler, who joined the organization last year, is stepping down from the post immediately to return to his hometown of Los Angeles to focus on personal family matters. Kent Jones, Director of Programming for the New York Film Festival, will serve in an expanded role until Lim joins Film Society next month.

“Bob brought a lot of fresh new ideas and innovation to the Film Society during his tenure and we are sorry to see him go,” said Film Society Executive Director Rose Kuo. “We wish him and his family well and send him our support during this challenging time. We will continue to move forward in a new direction while maintaining our commitment to excellence with the appointment of Dennis Lim as the new Director of Cinematheque Programming. Dennis's knowledge about our organization, his important contributions to film writing and his talent as a programmer make him an ideal partner and leader in the organization's development and growth.”

Robert Koehler and Kent Jones joined the Film Society after last year's New York Film Festival, with Koehler leading year-round programming for the organization and Jones assuming duties running NYFF.

Robert Koehler moderating a discussion with actress Jessica Chastain. Photo by Godlis

“I am leaving the position of Director of Programming both with a sense of regret, particularly the feeling of personal separation from a wonderful staff and programming team, as well as absolute confidence, given the entrance of Dennis Lim, who has been a friend, colleague and fellow cinephile for several years and whom the Film Society is extraordinarily fortunate to have in a leadership role,” said Koehler in a statement. “I believe that we have laid a foundation for a new and exciting era at Film Society, and I also look forward to contributing in numerous capacities to the Film Society’s growth.”

Dennis Lim is no stranger to the Film Society. He served on the selection committee of the New York Film Festival from 2009 to 2011. A frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times since 2006, Lim has written for, among other publications, Artforum, Cinema Scope and The Village Voice, where he served as Film Editor from 2000 to 2006. He is also the Founding Editor of Moving Image Source, the online magazine of the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, where he has also organized film series and retrospectives. Additionally, he teaches in the Cultural Reporting and Criticism graduate program at New York University's Journalism Institute and served as Programmer of the 2010 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. Lim is also completing a book for Amazon Publishing on David Lynch.

As Director of Cinematheque Programming, Lim will oversee the year-round retrospectives, festivals and screening series.

“I’m excited and honored to be joining an institution that has played a central role in the vitality of New York film culture and meant a great deal to me personally as a writer and a moviegoer,” said Dennis Lim in a statment. “I look forward to collaborating with Rose Kuo, Kent Jones, and the rest of the staff in developing a programming vision that both lives up to the illustrious history of the Film Society and opens new paths for its future.”

Dennis Lim moderating a Q&A with Andrei Ujica (The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceasescu) at NYFF. Photo by Godlis.

FilmLinc Daily asked Dennis Lim to share a few thoughts about joining the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

FilmLinc Daily: What is your overall reaction to your new appointment as Director of Cinematheque Programming?

Dennis Lim: I’m excited to be joining such an illustrious organization, one that played a huge role in my own formative years as a cinephile and a critic. It was at the New York Film Festival in the 90s that I discovered the work of Manoel de Oliveira, Abbas Kiarostami, and Alexander Sokurov, among many others. The Film Society’s Hou Hsiao-hsien retrospective of 1999 remains one of my most meaningful and memorable filmgoing experiences.

It’s both a great privilege and a great responsibility to be programming for such a discerning and knowledgable audience. I’m certainly mindful of the legacy of the Film Society. New York film culture as we know it would be unthinkable without the vision of Amos Vogel and Richard Roud, the founders of the New York Film Festival. And I consider myself a direct beneficiary of the good taste and the far-sighted efforts of those who followed in their path, not least Richard Peña, whom I had the pleasure of working with on three editions of the NYFF, and Kent Jones, whom I’m delighted to count as a colleague now.

FLD: How will you maintain continuity in this new role and how do you see Film Society programming evolving?

DL: It would be premature to make specific statements about how Film Society programming will evolve in the months to come. This is obviously a period of transition and growth, and it will take time to determine what works and what doesn’t. But now that the Film Society has three year-round screens, even with first-run releases in the mix, the programming could, and should, become more expansive and more responsive to film culture and to the world beyond film.

I’m not going into the job with a fixed agenda but I am keeping a couple of basic principles in mind. There are vast areas of truly vital contemporary world cinema and far too many interesting emerging filmmakers that have a hard time finding an audience here. And there are ever larger swathes of film history that are in danger of being eclipsed or forgotten. I’d like to develop a year-round cinematheque program that goes at least some small way toward reversing these trends.