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Noah Cowan

San Francisco Film Society
Executive Director
Noah Cowan has been Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society since March 2014.  He joined SFFS after five years at the helm of TIFF Bell Lightbox, the landmark cinema museum space in Toronto where he served as the facility’s founding Artistic Director. There he was responsible for the creative and artistic vision for the multi-purpose film venue and home of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). During his tenure, he curated many critically-acclaimed exhibitions and installations, including showcases of work by such diverse figures as David Cronenberg, Grace Kelly and visual artists Yang Fudong and Candice Breitz, as well as major retrospectives related to the history of Chinese cinema and the Indian superstar Raj Kapoor. He was also responsible for a large educational portfolio, including the TIFF Cinematheque, the TIFF Kids International Film Festival, several significant learning programs for students of all ages and large-scale collaborations between film and visual arts institutions around the world.
Cowan has had a long history with TIFF, beginning as a programmer for the Midnight Madness program in 1989, which remains one of the Festival’s most popular offerings. He subsequently curated major national cinema retrospectives on India and Japan for the organization, becoming a recognized new voice in contemporary international film programming by the mid-1990s. From 2004–08 Cowan was Codirector of the Toronto International Film Festival, alongside TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling. During Cowan’s tenure, the TIFF grew to become a world-leading public festival and marketplace as well as a daring innovator with recent initiatives such as the celebrated citywide meeting of the visual arts and cinema, Future Projections.
From 1997–2004 Cowan worked in New York City, where he cofounded Cowboy Pictures, a pioneering distributor of award-winning international art house films. In 2002, Cowan founded the Global Film Initiative, a nonprofit organization devoted to worldwide understanding through film. In partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, the foundation funded, acquired, created, and distributed educational material for socially meaningful cinema from the developing world.

My Speakers Sessions

Sunday, November 22

3:00pm PST

Monday, November 23

11:00am PST