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Sundance Institute’s Anne Lai to join SFFILM as executive director

San Francisco-based non-profit film organization SFFILM has appointed veteran film executive Anne Lai as executive director of the organization, effective March 11. Lai (pictured), who is set to join the company ...
January 22, 2020

San Francisco-based non-profit film organization SFFILM has appointed veteran film executive Anne Lai as executive director of the organization, effective March 11.

Lai (pictured), who is set to join the company following a 12-year stint at the Sundance Institute, will be tasked with overseeing SFFILM’s expanding programs in film exhibition, media education, and filmmaker services.

The film industry veteran replaces former executive director Noah Cowan, who departed from the San Francisco institution on May 1, 2019.

At Sundance Institute, Lai currently serves as director of creative producing and artist support, where she has led and developed myriad programs dedicated to supporting creative storytellers and championing emerging talent. Additionally, the executive has focused her efforts on discovering and developing emerging producers, screenwriters and directors through their first or second films.

Lai also launched Sundance Institute’s first lab dedicated to producers, overhauled the Creative Producing Summit, and most recently oversaw the Talent Forum, a three-day program during the Sundance Film Festival that “provides a curated group of Institute-supported projects access to with industry, advocates, and community to move their projects forward.”

Prior to joining Sundance Institute in April 2007, Lai served as VP of production at Scott Free, the film and TV company founded by film directors Ridley and Tony Scott.

Lai joins SFFILM as the organization prepares for its 63rd San Francisco International Film Festival, running April 8 to 21. She will be tasked with the completion of SFFILM’s current strategic plan, which includes goals “related to developing audiences that reflect the full demographics of the Bay Area” and bolstering artist development initiatives.

“We are excited to have Anne, with her incredible vision, exceptional leadership and management skills, distinct perspective, and deep industry knowledge, at the helm of SFFILM,” said Nion McEvoy, president of SFFILM’s board of directors, in a statement. “We look forward to her guidance of our work championing the future of film — cultivating tomorrow’s filmmakers and film lovers through our education programs, directly supporting today’s emerging storytellers through our artist development initiatives, and engaging Bay Area audiences with the best of world cinema through our longstanding Festival and year-round screening events.”

“The staff and I are very excited to have Anne join us at SFFILM,” added Rachel Rosen, SFFILM’s director of programming. “Her depth of experience guiding artist development and artist education programs and her experience working with big budget productions, independents, and non-profits will be essential as we continue to integrate our presentation, artist development, and education programs. The diversity and quality of films that she has nurtured to fruition reveal that she shares SFFILM’s values and passion for a wide range of films, filmmakers, and audiences.”

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