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Film Brief - IMAGE director moves on

After just eight months on staff, IMAGE Film & Video Executive Director Alison Fussell has resigned.

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Jon Aaron, who has served on the organization's board for seven years, including four as board chairman, will fill the executive director position until a replacement can be found. IMAGE will undertake a national search for an executive director.

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Fussell, who could not be reached for comment, left because "she wanted to be with her family more," says Aaron. But, he notes, "in my opinion, it wasn't the right fit."

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Fussell came to IMAGE from Atlanta public access television station People TV, where she was general manager.

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Also leaving her position as Atlanta Film Festival director is another recent hire, Jessica Denton, who joined IMAGE in January.

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The exodus of Fussell and Denton is the latest in a series of staff turnovers in the past year, including the recent departure of Out on Film Festival director Mark Smith, whose position will be filled on a contract basis by Moji Sonoiki. IMAGE also has a vacancy for a development director.

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In addition, the 29th annual Atlanta Film Festival in June was not as successful as the board had hoped. The event did not exceed last year's attendance of about 26,000, says current board Chairwoman Judy Tabb. While the opening night gala broke previous attendance records, other events failed to meet expectations.

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Tabb acknowledges that IMAGE's limited budget means that its staff has traditionally treated the job as a stepping stone.

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"We can't keep people for more than about three years," says Tabb. "We don't really have a career path."

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But both Aaron and Tabb are insistent that the recent staff turnover and Fussell and Denton's resignations should not be taken as a sign that the organization is in trouble.

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"We can survive this," says Aaron. "IMAGE is more than any one person."