Joanne Koch, executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, dies at 92

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Joanne KochChief Executive Officer Emeritus of Filming at Lincoln Center who led the organization for more than 32 years, died Aug. 16 in New York. She was 92 years old.

Koch’s death was confirmed by Sarah Eaton, his Film colleague at Lincoln Center.

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Koch served as executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, as it was then known, from 1971 to 2003, serving as a key architect of the organization’s modern stature. She was an influential force, not only in New York film culture, but also internationally, helping to attract global film talent to the city.

As Executive Director, Koch managed Film Society programs including the New York Film Festival, co-produced gala tributes, and served on the New Directors/New Films Selection Committee. She also served as the organization’s financial director and played a key role in publishing Film Comment magazine after the Film Society acquired the label in 1974.

Koch first joined the Film Society in 1971 as a programmer for its Movies in the Parks series. Shortly after, she was elevated to the position of administrator before taking the title of general manager. In 1999, she was elected to the Board of Directors as Executive Vice President. She remained an influential force in the organization after her departure as Executive Director, serving as Project Director for the new construction and redevelopment program, resulting in the construction of the new Cinema Centre, which opened its doors in 2011.

Koch was born in New York on October 19, 1929. After earning a degree in political science and economics from Goddard College, she began working in the film department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She left her title of technical director in 1967 due to a rule of nepotism after marrying Richard Koch, then director of administration at MoMA.

Koch was first married to Oscar Godbout. She is survived by one daughter, three stepsons, two grandsons, four step-granddaughters and three step-grandsons.

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