Joanne Koch, the executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has died. She was 92. Koch was an influential figure in the culture of cinema in New York and ran Film at Lincoln Center, as it is known now, for 32 years.
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Koch died on Tuesday, according to Film at Lincoln Center who retweeted a story published by THR and was first to report the story.
The cinema connoisseur stepped down from her position at Film at Lincoln Center back in 2019 after a long tenure where she helped launch New York Film Festival’s New Directors/New Films Festival in 1972. She was also the publisher of Film Comment magazine and co-produced 19 of the Chaplin Award galas that paid tribute to legendary film artists.
At the time she left her position at Film at Lincoln Center she said in a statement, “I am pleased to be turning over the management of the Film Society at a time when it is thriving as never before and am delighted that the organization will be in such highly capable and experienced hands.”
Koch was a proponent of having programming year-round and pushed for the launch of the New Directors/New Films back in 1972.
“My predecessor Gerald Freund got a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for $15,000 to show films in prisons,” Koch told Variety in an interview in 2019. “But the city wasn’t that interested, and it never took off, so the foundation agreed to let us use it for [New Directors/New Films]. We couldn’t afford to do it in Lincoln Center’s halls, so I contacted Willard Van Dyke at MoMA, where I had worked, about collaborating.”