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Canada’s Noah Cowan taking the reins of San Francisco filmfest

Noah Cowan photographed in Toronto, Sept. 5, 2006.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Prominent Toronto film administrator and cinéaste Noah Cowan is the new executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, it was announced Wednesday by the society.

Cowan, until recently artistic director of TIFF Bell Lightbox, home of the Toronto International Film Festival, begins his new job March 3, succeeding Ted Hope who resigned last fall after less than two years in the position. Among Cowan's new duties: overseeing the San Francisco International Film Festival, an annual event since the late 1950s.

The Toronto-born Cowan, 46, has a long association with TIFF, doing various odd jobs starting at 14, then in 1989 becoming programmer for Midnight Madness, the festival's popular cult-horror showcase.

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He left for New York in 1997 to co-found Cowboy Pictures, a distributor of art-house films, returning to the Ontario capital in 2004 to serve as co-director of TIFF alongside the organization's chief executive officer Piers Handling.

In 2008, he was named artistic director of the Lightbox, which officially opened in September, 2010.

It is unclear at present if TIFF intends to fill Cowan's position for which he was paid $187,000 in 2012, according to provincial records. In a memo to staff late last month, Handling said he'd decided to make the departure an "opportunity to pause and reflect on the broader goals and strategic priorities for the organization from a staffing standpoint." Cowan, he added, had "built a wonderful team below him that we have total confidence in and they will continue to run the year-round programming activities and initiatives with all our support."

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