EXCLUSIVE: Sheffield Doc/Fest has appointed Claire Aguilar as director of programming and industry engagement.
The newly created hybrid role will see Aguilar taking over from former director of programming Hussain Currimbhoy - who stepped down after seven years to join the Sundance Film Festival – as well as being responsible for overseeing industry training and mentoring as part of Doc/Fest’s year-round workshops.
Aguilar joins Doc/Fest from American public television broadcaster Independent Television Service (ITVS), where she held the roles of executive content adviser, responsible for commissioning documentaries and vice president of programming, which saw her overseeing programming strategy and funding. She will move from San Francisco, where she is currently based, to Sheffield at the end of January.
She has previously served as programming consultant, film juror and panelist across a slate of international documentary organisations including Pew Fellowships in the Arts, Ford Foundation, IDFA, Visions du Réel, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Rockefeller Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Speaking to Screen, Aguilar said she was “so excited” to join the Doc/Fest team, having previously been a juror, speaker and panelist at the festival.
“I love the festival and the people, it’s so lively and it’s at a point of growth. It will be great to build on such a wonderful foundation,” said Aguilar, who plans to give the programme line-up a more international slant in future editions.
“I’d love to expand the line-up and bring in more global programming. Now the emphasis is on films from the UK, but it would also be good to cement the festival as the premiere international documentary showcase.”
She also plans to boost the festival’s year-round activities. “There is so much happening around Doc/Fest, it would be great for the festival to be a real presence throughout the year and for Sheffield to become a media centre.”
As part of her remit to oversee industry training and mentoring, Aguilar plans to “expand on the crossover market” and to “work with emerging filmmakers and producers” as well as expanding on the festival’s production training programme that was initiated last year.
“Increasingly there’s an organic link between the way we nurture young film-makers and the quality of the films that end up in the Festival programme. Claire will play a vital role in extending and developing that link,” said Alex Graham, chair of Sheffield Doc/Fest, adding that Aguilar brings “not just great curatorial skills but also a wealth of experience as a broadcaster and commissioning editor.”
“We feel honoured to welcome Claire to Sheffield Doc/Fest and to have her on board to also contribute to our year-round training and mentoring programmes,” said Heather Croall, CEO and Festival Director of the appointment.
The next edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest runs June 5-10, 2015.