IOWA CITY — FilmScene Executive Director Joe Tiefenthaler has left the nonprofit cinema after five years.
The organization announced the departure by email Friday morning.
“Joe decided to step down. It was the right time,” FilmScene co-founder Andrew Sherburne told The Gazette. He declined to comment on the reason behind the decision.
Sherburne will serve as interim executive director while a search committee looks for a new director.
Tiefenthaler did not immediately return messages Friday requesting comment.
Besides showing films, FilmScene also holds dialogues with filmmakers and panelists and puts on community events.
In a letter attached to the announcement and addressed to FilmScene’s board of directors, Tiefenthaler wrote:
“On Friday, October 4th, I stepped down from my duties at FilmScene — an emotional but necessary move as I turn my focus to new endeavors in our community and beyond. As I take a bit of personal time to reflect upon and truly appreciate the value and opportunity of working at FilmScene during this period of extraordinary change, I will be thinking of all of you who helped make this such an important chapter in my life.”
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The change comes on the heels of FilmScene expanding with a new location, which opened Sept. 20 at The Chauncey high rise in downtown Iowa City.
FilmScene is the new 15-story building’s anchor tenant. The theater also maintains its original location on the Ped Mall, where it opened in 2013.
Tiefenthaler joined FilmScene as executive director in October 2014 and has overseen the organization expanding into the new space and in membership and attendance.
According to a report on the organization’s website, attendance went from 27,671 visits in 2014 to 46,059 in 2018, and membership grew from 743 members in 2014 to 1,277 in 2018.
Tiefenthaler also has been involved with the Strengthen Grow Evolve campaign, a partnership between FilmScene and the Englert Theatre that seeks to raise $6.5 million for the two organizations. According to the campaign’s website, the campaign has secured 64 percent of that goal with confirmed pledges, anticipated tax credits and grants. The campaign helped fund FilmScene’s move to The Chauncey and is also slated to cover the cost of renovations to the Englert’s historic theater downtown, among other things.
“We will continue that work. Quite a bit of FilmScene’s work was tied to opening the Chauncey, and we’re still finishing that up,” Sherburne said. “We’re very excited to watch our deep partners, the Englert, start their work.”
He said other efforts FilmScene is planning include projects related to grants from the Johnson County Community Foundation to work with high school students and a Science on Screen grant to engage with scientific topics through film and discussions. There are also plans to start a film festival, perhaps as soon as next year, he said.
“Our organization is going forward as planned. There’s a lot of energy here,” he said. “I don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”
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