Bill Foster introduces Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” on opening night of the 40th Portland International Film Festival.

Northwest Film Center Director Bill Foster announces retirement

After nearly four decades at the helm of the Northwest Film Center, Bill Foster has announced his retirement. During Foster’s tenure the Film Center has become the region’s premier media arts institution and is recognized as a model for film arts exhibition, education, and artist service organizations nationally.

Foster guided a diverse range of cinema showcases, including annual events such as the Portland International Film Festival, Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, Portland Jewish Film Festival, and Reel Music, while overseeing diverse year-round exhibition programs, classes, and filmmaker service programs that serve 75,000 people annually. Beyond the Center’s own programs and collaborations with community organizations, Foster has served in numerous leadership capacities in the arts community, including co-chair of the Portland Arts Alliance, board membership on the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and service on arts funding and policy panels locally, regionally, and nationally. In 1998 the Center received the Governor’s Arts Award for outstanding leadership and service to Oregon and the region.

In addition to the Center’s hallmark festivals and series, thematic programming related to Museum exhibitions and education programs has served to further connect audiences and underscore the relationship between art and film.

“Working with the many, many people who have shared enthusiasm for the Film Center’s mission and programs over the years has been such an incredible experience,” said Foster. “Helping make the Center thrive and meeting and showing the work of filmmakers from throughout the world has been an extraordinary honor, one with the added pleasures of personal enrichment and friendships, and reward in being a part of building a community which celebrates independent artistic voices. I leave knowing that the amazing Film Center staff, wonderful community partners and supporters, and Museum and board are committed to the Center’s vibrancy for the generations to come,” said Foster.

Founded in 1971 with the mission of building a flourishing media arts community, the Center became part of the Portland Art Association in 1979, joining the Portland Art Museum as an institution dedicated to engaging diverse communities through art and film of enduring quality.

“Bill’s impact on the film community in our region has been significant. Under his leadership the Film Center’s mission and programs have enriched Portland’s cultural life and furthered the Museum’s goals of artistic excellence, community engagement, and dedication to bringing artist and audience together for discovery and celebration,” said Portland Art Museum Director Brian Ferriso.

“Bill’s leadership has made the Film Center one of our community’s artistic treasures, not only for film lovers, but also for regional filmmakers for whom the Film Center has been a resource and champion in so many ways,” said Portland Art Museum board chair Pat Ritz.

Foster’s last day will be August 31, at which time an interim leadership team consisting of Rachel Record, Development Manager; Morgen Ruff, Exhibition Program Manager; and Ellen Thomas, Education Director will be put in place. A national search for a new director will commence in the coming months. Retirement celebration details to follow.