After one of the most challenging years in the history of the Vancouver International Film Festival, its top staff member and long-time visionary leader, Alan Franey, has stepped down.
In a weekend news release, Franey said that it has been a privilege to lead the festival for so long.
"This 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival has been my 26th as Festival Director and it will be my last in this role," he stated. "I hope to remain very much involved with VIFF but to focus on programming. I also hope to live a more balanced life and to have more time for other pursuits. Don’t we all?! For me that day has come."
He added that senior staff and the board of directors have been preparing for several years for this "executive transition".
Franey noted that there are "several deeply knowledgeable and dedicated long-term employees who work 60-80 hour weeks on our behalf".
He also stated that attendance this year "exceeded expectations and there has been much praise for the films".
This fall's festival came after the closure of the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas, which served for many years as an anchor for the event. The Ridge Theatre, which screened VIFF films for many years, also closed earlier this year.
In their place, festival films were shown at SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, the Vancouver Playhouse, the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts, and Cineplex Odeon International Village.
That's in addition to the Vancity Theatre, the Cinematheque, and Rio Theatre, where films have been screened in previous years.
(For this year's award-winning VIFF films, go here.)
Franey helped make the Vancouver International Film Festival one of the most successful events of its kind in the world, without selling its soul.
On the Vanramblings blog, COPE activist and writer Ray Tomlin praised him as "a mature and thoughtful man of zen countenance possessed of an uncommon humanity, and a coherent and incisive administrative management capability that has not seen its equal on the arts scence in Vancouver since his investiture as Festival head, an arts administrator without equal, and in consequence utterly and profoundly irreplaceable".