Kristy Matheson, currently director of film at Australia's national museum of screen culture in Melbourne, will spearhead plans for the festival’s 75th anniversary year in 2022, and efforts to retain its global profile and reputation.
She will take charge of the programming of the festival and its future “creative vision” under a shake-up of the event which will see her role of chief creative officer replace the job of EIFF artistic director.
Film critic Mark Adams, the last artistic director, stepped down with immediate effect in November 2019 and plans to hire a replacement were put on hold by the pandemic.
The festival launched a worldwide hunt in February for a new figurehead in February for the event, declaring that it “had presented some of cinema's most important and exciting moments and played host to the world's greatest filmmakers” since it was launched in 1947.
The description for the new job stated that the EIFF had built its programming reputation around “a strong cinephile vision of film culture and history.”
It added: "The intersection of audiences, talent, industry and academia within a strong programming vision is critical to the future success of the industry and of the EIFF itself.”
The event may also return to its traditional August slot in the calendar from next year under a rethink of the event, which is planned to return in a scaled-down form this August, with indoor and outdoor screenings expected to go ahead with socially distanced audiences.
Ms Matheson will lead the future programming direction of the Filmhouse Cinema, the long-standing headquarters of the festival, and will be working on its proposed new multi-million pound new home in Festival Square.
Ms Matheson has been a director for three years at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image which normally attracts around 1.45 million visitors a year and is the country’s second busiest museum.
She has worked in the Australian film industry for more than 20 years, including spells at both Brisbane and Sydney's film festivals. She was awarded a fellowship from the Australian International Movie Convention four years under a scheme to inspire the next generation of screen industry leaders to “outstanding success.”
Ms Matheson is the first ever chief creative officer at the Edinburgh-based Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), which runs the festival, and the Filmhouse cinemas in Edinburgh and Aberdeen. She will take on the role after this year’s EIFF.
Ms Matheson said: “Across their rich histories, the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Filmhouse Cinemas have ignited the filmic passions of generations of movie lovers.
"I'm looking forward to working with the team alongside storytellers and industry colleagues from the production, distribution, and exhibition sectors to create a dynamic programme that inspires and warmly welcomes audiences.”
CMI chief executive Ken Hay said: “Kristy has an exceptional track record working across the film sector, and will bring a fresh creative vision. We can’t wait to welcome her to Edinburgh later in the summer.”
Atholl Duncan, interim chair of the CMI’s board, added: “After a global search, Kristy was the perfect candidate, bringing not just exceptional knowledge and expertise, but also a deep passion for making film accessible to everyone.”