Peña to Receive Gala Tribute at New York Film Festival

He’s been one of the masterminds behind retrospectives on artists like Michelangelo Antonioni and Sacha Guitry… And now Richard Peña is getting his own special tribute at the New York Film Festival.

The 59-year-old program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, who has served as the director of the New York Film Festival since 1988, will be the subject of a gala tribute to be presented for the first time during the festival’s historic 50th edition.

Richard Peña

At the Film Society, Peña has organized retrospectives of Robert Aldrich, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Taiwanese and Argentine cinema.

In his tenure as the FSLC’s program director and selection committee chair of the New York Film Festival, Peña has upheld the organization’s gold standard for showcasing the best in world cinema, while dramatically expanding its horizons. From his encyclopedic surveys of Italian Neorealism and pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema, Peña’s knowledge and appetite for undiscovered cinematic territory have been an ongoing gift to New York moviegoers for the better part of three decades.

During that same time, he has overseen the Film Society’s expansion from an annual festival to a year-round film exhibitor with three screens and a rapidly expanding online presence.

In addition, he’s a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema, and from 2006-2009 was a visiting professor in Spanish at Princeton University. He’s also currently serving as the co-host of WNET/Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.

“It is very fitting that we celebrate the 50th birthday of the New York Film Festival by honoring the man who has guided the festival’s artistic vision for the last 25 years. Richard Pena helped us discover directors like Pedro Almodovar, Abbas Kiarostami, Olivier Assayas, Lars Von Trier and Hou Hsiao-hsien, making an indelible contribution to film culture in New York City and around the world,” said FSLC’s Executive Director Rose Kuo. “We hope that his friends and colleagues will join us for a special evening to celebrate his achievements.”

Peña’s gala tribute will take place on Wednesday, October 10.

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent.