So basically Kent Jones is leaving his honcho position with the New York Film Festival because he and the Film at Lincoln Center board have decided that the optics of his having become a heavyweight narrative filmmaker with Diane while concurrently running a major fall film festival…he and the board have decided that Jones continuing to wear both hats isn’t quite cricket, appearance-wise.
Jones will exit following the 57th New York Film Festival, which runs from 9.27 through 10.13.
Variety‘s Greg Goldstein: “The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved from mostly cineaste-oriented documentaries such as the 2015 doc Hitchcock/Truffaut to narrative features including his 2019 drama Diane.”
Goldstein notes Diane’s exec producer and Jones’ friend of nearly three decades, Martin Scorsese, is the director of NYFF’s opening-night film, The Irishman. Which is obviously how and why Jones managed to land Scorsese’s new gangster pic to open the 2019 NYFF on 9.27…hello?
Jones reason for stepping down “is very simple,” he tells Goldstein. “Making Diane changed things — I’ve always written scripts, and I’ve always shared them with friends, among them Marty [Scorsese], Arnaud Desplechin and Olivier Assayas — people I’m really close to, [and] it changes your perspective.
“Watching films by other people — and particularly rejecting films by other people — becomes different,” Jones explained. “After making my film, I guess that changed my perspective.” Read: his NYFF responsibilities became more politically difficult.
Goldstein reports that in Diane‘s wake Jones has written another heavy-ish drama with a female protagonist. No details except for a cryptic Jones remark: “I certainly wouldn’t call it a comedy.”
“At some point when I was pretty young and already deep into movies, the New York Film Festival became a beacon for me,” Jones said. “Throughout its history, it has been a true home for the art of cinema — that was how it began with Richard Roud and Amos Vogel, that was how it remained with my predecessor Richard Peña, and that was how I’ve done my best to maintain it. I thank my colleagues, I thank the board for sticking to the original mission, I thank our audiences, I thank our colleagues in the industry, but most of all I thank the filmmakers. It’s been a joy and an honor to present their work.”