Downtown’s favorite little arthouse theater and bistro is welcoming a new chief cheerleader, cat herder and imagineer, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome him, too. As Executive Director, Wendell Riley will lead the many activities of the Robinson Film Center in conjunction with their active and engaged Board of Directors.
If you only go to RFC for the great movies or Abby Singer’s Bistro for delicious dining, you may not realize all the activities this wonderful little space provides. It is not just a space to see an engaging movie or documentary. RFC offers film camps and a book club, regional filmmaker’s spotlights and so much more. Outside the calm exterior at 617 Texas Street, there is constant action and reaction, with plans being made, changed and hopefully, perfected.
Over the years, the theater has dealt with a number of issues- from infrastructure concerns to Covid- that could easily have meant their end, but former Executive Director Meghan Hochstetler- Avallone was able, with blood, sweat and some tears, to lead them through.
“When we began our search for a new executive director, we knew we had big shoes to fill,” said Anna Gleason, President of RFC’s Board of Directors. “Wendell couldn’t be a more perfect fit for this role. I’m excited to see some of his ideas come to fruition, and we’re looking forward to his insight and leadership through the Robinson’s next era. The future for RFC is bright and full of potential, and we believe Wendell is the ideal person to lead the charge.”
Riley comes to RFC from LSU Shreveport where he was Director of Media and External Relations, but he has been a part of the Shreveport-Bossier film community for over a decade, working on Emmy, Cannes, Clio, Telly, and Webby award-winning projects at Moonbot Studios and Rational Middle Media. He has also worked with the Louisiana Prize Fest team and was instrumental in the early growth of Film Prize Jr., an acclaimed filmmaking competition and festival for high-school students. Riley has been a longtime supporter of RFC and has recently been a volunteer instructor for film analysis classes in the center’s Filmmaking 101 series. Along with his educational and non-profit work, Riley has experience working with international clients such as Disney, Amazon, Gatorade, Chipotle, Dolby, Unilever, and Michelin. Riley is also a judge at the annual Cinema on the Bayou festival in Lafayette, Louisiana.
“I feel like I’m joining a winning team, as RFC has already cemented its place as a cultural jewel in Shreveport,” says Riley. “My goal is to build upon what has already been done, as I believe in the transformative power of the arts, and the medium of film in particular. We can do so much more to bring all that RFC has to offer to wider and traditionally underserved communities, and leverage partnerships with area organizations to continue to nurture the local film industry.”
Interim Executive Director Rich Hansil will be returning to producing TV and film while continuing to serve as Co-director of Education and Programming at RFC.