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L.A. Film Festival selects producer Rebecca Yeldham as director

Yeldham replaces Richard Raddon, who stepped down amid a backlash to his support for Proposition 8.

March 13, 2009|John Horn

The Los Angeles Film Festival on Thursday named producer and board member Rebecca Yeldham its new director, replacing Richard Raddon, who was pushed out of the job in November following his support of Proposition 8.

In appointing Yeldham to the top job, festival organizer Film Independent picked someone who not only was familiar with the festival's internal operations but also had served as a programmer of the Sundance Film Festival.

The move is the latest shuffle in the cozy film festival circuit. Earlier this week, John Cooper, head Sundance Institute programmer, was named the new director of the Sundance Film Festival.

Cooper replaced longtime festival director Geoff Gilmore, who became chief creative officer at Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises, where he will have a role in the Tribeca Film Festival.

After leaving Sundance in 2001, Yeldham worked as a producer on "The Kite Runner," "The Motorcycle Diaries" and "Anvil! The Story of Anvil." For the last nine years, she has been a board member of Film Independent, which produces the June film festival and the annual Spirit Awards, which honor the best work in independent cinema.

"We were looking for a different kind of leader -- a real visionary for what the festival is for this city and for this time," said Dawn Hudson, Film Independent's executive director.

Yeldham said she was initially reluctant to consider the job, which became open after Raddon's $1,500 donation to help pass the anti-gay-marriage initiative made him a target of marriage equality advocates.

"But one of the big attractions to me was that I started to get feedback from friends in the industry about how much they want a great film festival in the city," Yeldham said. "And there's such goodwill around the festival, it seemed like the right moment."

Yeldham will collaborate with festival programming director Rachel Rosen to assemble a lineup for the 15th annual festival, which is scheduled to run from June 18 to 28.

Some festivals are scaling back or closing their doors. The Jackson Hole Film Festival closed in October, and this year's Tribeca Film Festival has cut its film lineup 20%.

Yeldham said Los Angeles Film Festival underwriting, which includes the Los Angeles Times, remains strong, but she had some concerns.

"It is challenging," she said, "because you want to have the resources to make an event deliver on your hopes, dreams and agenda."

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john.horn@latimes.com

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