In a move that has shaken the foundations of the independent film world (italics and exaggeration added), Geoff Gilmore has left the Sundance Film Festival and accepted a position with Tribeca Enterprises. indieWIRE has the complete story, which has sparked widespread reactions in the blogosphere, ranging from "What?!" to "Woah."
Gilmore has been named Chief Creative Officer with Tribeca Enterprises and will be responsible for "Tribeca's global content strategy, lead creative development initiatives and expand the Tribeca brand." (Into what -- shoes?) Gilmore spent 19 years at Sundance and has overseen the festival's rise to prominence as the premiere showcase in the world for American independent cinema. He has become synonymous with the fest, and the idea that he would leave, much less for the company behind the Tribeca Film Festival, which has a reputation for being "too rich and too big" (Variety, reporting on grumblings from a film fest summit) and for increasing 'premiere status pressure' among fests and filmmakers (A.J. Schnack provided an overview), has caught many by surprise.
"Woah," is what Karina Longworth said at Spout, before noting the "very different identities" of the two fests. "I am not 100% sure what to make of [it]," David Poland wrote at The Hot Blog. Tribeca faces the same problem as "any film festival with Top Tier fest ambitions faces ... they are not needed ... Is this really a big step or is it Mr. Gilmore leveraging his brand to get a contract that pays him double what Sundance was paying"? Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere echoes the latter thought: "He must have been offered a pretty rich deal to leave the top berth at Sundance." Wells also points to recent financial problems at Tribeca.