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Co-founder and Artistic Director Ron Henderson to step down from leadership role after 30 years

DENVER – November 07, 2007 - Ron Henderson, one of the founders and the artistic director of the Denver Film Society (DFS) and the Starz Denver Film Festival, as well as a recognized figure in the international film community, is retiring from his role as artistic director and will be relinquishing his day-to-day leadership responsibilities at the end of the year.  After 30 years of distinguished service, Henderson will remain associated with DFS as a senior program consultant.

    To recognize Henderson’s contributions to the world of film, he will be honored with the prestigious John Cassavetes Award at a special presentation on opening night (Thursday, November 8) of this year’s Starz Denver Film Festival.  Established in 1989 in collaboration with Gena Rowlands, this coveted award is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the world of filmmaking and whose work reflects the spirit of the late John Cassavetes.  The first recipient of this award was Steven Soderbergh and recent recipients include Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, William H. Macy, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins.

    Through Henderson’s leadership and vision, the Starz Denver Film Festival has grown from a three-screen event with 78 films reaching an estimated audience of 10,000 to this year’s festival which will include 179 films from 36 countries on 12 screens with an audience exceeding 40,000.  He has helped transform the event into one of the largest, best known and most successful film festivals in the United States.   In 2005, Henderson received the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper and the Distinguished Service Award from the University of Colorado Board of Regents.

    Henderson’s involvement in film began some years before he came to Denver.  A former book editor for The MacMillan Company, he served as the director of the National Student Film Festival in New York City and as program director of the Taos (New Mexico) Talking Picture Festival.  Henderson is also credited with founding the Breckenridge (Colorado) Festival of Film.

    “Ron’s impact on the cultural health of Denver has been extraordinary,” said Nina Henderson Moore, chair of the Denver Film Society’s Board of Directors.  “He was there when film festivals were not at all commonplace.  And it is his dedication and commitment that has propelled the Starz Denver Film Festival solidly onto the international stage.”

New Leadership

    Britta Erickson has been appointed director of festivals by Executive Director Scott Rowitz and the Society’s Board of Directors.  

    “Britta brings a wealth of knowledge and relationships within the film industry and film festival world as well as within the Denver cultural community to her new role,” said Rowitz.  “Her leadership at the Starz Denver Film Festival has contributed to the audience growth and community impact of the film festival.”  

    Currently serving as the director of media and industry relations, Erickson joined the staff in 1999.  Prior to that, she was the founding executive director of the Acoma Center (later the Curious Theatre Company), a non-profit performing arts organization in Denver.

    “I am excited by the challenges and opportunities this new position offers me,” said Erickson.  “Already the premier film organization in Colorado, the Denver Film Society has so much more it can offer to the diverse communities we serve.   We are already hard at work defining the next steps in our growth and development.”

    Brit Withey, who has served as program director for the Society, has been appointed artistic director of festivals providing creative leadership for the Starz Denver Film Festival and other projects of the DFS.  Withey’s diverse programmatic background and his extensive experience in the film industry, has helped inform the direction and growth of the Starz Denver Film Festival.

    Scott Rowitz, executive director of the Denver Film Society since 2001, completes the leadership team, continuing in his management and oversight of the organization’s business functions.

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Available Photos:

    Ron Henderson

    Britta Erickson

    Brit Withey

    Scott Rowitz