ART HOUSE CONVERGENCE ANNOUNCES BOARD OFFICERS
Plans underway to relaunch annual conference in 2024
Chicago, May 4, 2023 – Art House Convergence (AHC) announces the election of its inaugural officers of the newly formed Board of Directors. Steering the organization into its new iteration, alongside the rest of the board, is Lela Meadow-Conner, President (mamafilm), Alicia Kozma, Vice President (Indiana University Cinema), Ben Godar, Treasurer (Varsity Cinema) and Javier Chavez, Secretary (AFI Silver).
“The AHC board is collectively committed to helping art house and community-based theaters thrive in an increasingly precarious exhibition landscape. Key to that commitment is AHC’s role in facilitating progressive industry development and sustainability while working in tandem with our sister organizations” said Meadow-Conner. “It’s paramount that we continue to keep art house and community-based cinemas at the forefront of the ever-evolving conversation about the future of cinema exhibition, equity, accessibility, and inclusion. These spaces play a crucial role in the ecosystem of both mainstream and independent film, film festivals, and community building. Sustaining art house cinemas is critical to the perpetuation of film culture and theatrical exhibition as an industry.”
The AHC board has been meeting since October of 2022, focusing on key initiatives to build organizational stability after 3 years of transitional status within the organization and the industry at large. The Board recently wrapped-up their first in-person retreat, kindly hosted by the AFI Silver Theatre, where they delved into AHC’s purpose and mission while planning for organizational sustainability and service to membership.
“Though we haven’t gathered in person for three years, our community remains vibrant, with an active listserv, an expansive membership, and a strong desire to collectively chart the course for independent exhibition in an industry that is vastly different than just a few short years ago,” said Kozma. “To that end the board is happy to announce that AHC will invite our community to come together once again in June 2024 for the AHC annual conference.” A location for the annual conference has not been announced; the Board is currently exploring location options that will best serve its membership and the overall art house community.
AHC was founded in 2006 as a project of the Michigan Theater Foundation in partnership with the Sundance Institute’s Art House Project. What began as an annual meeting of fourteen independent exhibitors transformed into a national organization with year round activities including Art House Theater Day, the Visiting Members Program, and regional conferences that attracted hundreds of attendees from theaters, film festivals, distributors, vendors, and allied organizations.
In 2020 AHC became a fiscally sponsored project of the Sundance Institute, and in 2022, AHC’s inaugural Board of Directors was elected. The group is tasked with transforming AHC, including unwinding AHC from its previous fiscal sponsorship, setting up the organization as an independent 501(c)(3), and determining the best form and function of membership, resources, and programming for the art house community.
The AHC Board of Directors is composed of 14 independent cinema professionals from across the country. In addition to the executive committee, the board of directors at large includes Matt Bolish (Film at Lincoln Center), Yasmin Chin Eisenhauer (Amherst Cinema), Ben Delgado (FilmScene), Deirdre Haj (Film Streams), Arin Liberman (Ragtag Film Society), Garineh Nazarian (Vanera Films), Asha Phelps (IFC Center), tt stern-enzi (Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival), Emelyn Stuart (Stuart Cinema), and Stephanye Watts (Be Reel Black Cinema Club).
Lela Meadow-Conner is a Creative Producer and Founder of mama.film – where storytellers, changemakers and nurturers come together to champion humanity through a maternal gaze. mama.film curates films that center women, identity and the human experience. In 2020, mama.film launched rePROFilm, a virtual monthly film series advocating for reproductive justice. In 2021 & 2022 mama.film served as a Satellite Screen for the Sundance Film Festival in Kansas and now operates as a nomadic cinema experience. Meadow-Conner has 20 years of experience in independent cinema exhibition, most recently serving as the Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance from 2017-2022. Her filmmaking credits include Chasing Chasing Amy (Tribeca, 2023) Run Amok (2024) and The Spice Poet, currently in development with Priyanka Chopra’s Purple Pebble Pictures. She also sits on the board of the Vidiots Foundation, soon to relaunch in the historic Eagle Theater in Eagle Rock, CA, and is a member of the Brown Girls Doc Mafia.
Alicia Kozma, PhD, is the Director of Indiana University Cinema, an art house cinema dedicated to using film and cinema studies for intellectual development and cultural enrichment. An educator, writer, and researcher, her work is focused on practical and interventional analyses around the labor of underrepresented populations in the entertainment industries with an emphasis on gendered labor in the neo-art house and below the line production work. She also works on evaluations of emerging media technologies on the business of theatrical distribution and exhibition particularly focused on the impacts to independent theaters.
Ben Godar is the co-founder and executive director of Des Moines Film, as well as the programmer for Varsity Cinema. Before creating the nonprofit, Ben was a filmmaker, college instructor and journalist. He earned an MFA in Screenwriting from Chapman University.
Javier Chavez is Associate Film Programmer at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is part of a team that curates over 700 films annually at the theater, from first-run to repertory to several festivals, including the AFI Latin American Film Festival and AFI European Union Film Showcase. He has served as a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Grant Panelist for Media Arts and was formerly Associate Director of Coral Gables Art Cinema for six years. Outside the world of cinema, he is a self-taught computer programmer who hopes to automate his entire workday – a task not yet accomplished. Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, he holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Art House Convergence (AHC) is a coalition of independent exhibitors that connects, amplifies, and advocates for its community.