Aspen Film taps Film Independent’s Mackay as artistic director |

Aspen Film taps Film Independent’s Mackay as artistic director

Staff report
Maggie Mackay was named artistic director of Aspen Film on Thursday. She takes the post Aug. 17.
Courtesy photo |

Aspen Film has hired Maggie Mackay as its artistic director, the nonprofit announced Thursday. Mackay comes to Aspen Film from Los Angeles-based Film Independent, where she served as director of nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards and senior Programmer of the Los Angeles Film Festival.

She will take her post here Aug. 17.

“We are lucky to have such a wonderful asset to the arts community and know that Maggie will take Aspen Film to new and dynamic heights,” said Aspen Film board president Lee Rittvo in an announcement.

Aspen Film co-directors George Eldred and Laura Thielen, who had led the organization for two decades, announced their departure from Aspen Film in January. The pair has stayed on board in program the 36th Annual Aspen Filmfest, which runs Sept. 25 to 30.

John Thew, formerly managing director at Theatre Aspen, took over as executive director at Aspen Film in July.

“Maggie’s experience in the world of independent film is truly impressive and we are thrilled by the board’s process and her decision to join the Aspen Film team,” said Thew. “We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect candidate to carry on the legacy that Laura Thielen and George Eldred have built.”

Aspen Film’s board conducted a national search for an artistic director to complement Thew’s role. Reporting directly to Thew, Mackay will assume responsibility for Aspen Film’s overall artistic direction of film festivals, special screenings and events.

Mackay, 40, is a New York City native with a degree in English and film studies from the University of Delaware and a Master’s in literature and film studies from Claremont Graduate University. Mackay has previously served as Senior Coordinator of the Sundance Documentary Fund, and a programmer and consultant for numerous film festivals, including AFI Fest and the Sarasota Film Festival. She got to know Thielen and Aspen Film through Thielen’s service on the nomination committee of the Spirit Awards.

“Laura and George have secured Aspen Film’s stellar reputation with both audiences and filmmakers and I am excited and humbled to build on this with John,” said Mackay, who will continue to reside in Los Angeles while working for Aspen Film and traveling here frequently. “Along with looking forward to this incredible professional opportunity, I can’t wait to explore this beautiful region and introduce my children to its endless natural wonders as they grow up.”