Ginny Krieger named Sonoma International Film Festival executive director

SIFF also welcomes Carl Spence as artistic director.|

Ginny Krieger has a new starring role with the Sonoma International Film Festival, as event officials this week announced the longtime Sonoma resident as its new executive director.

Krieger has been involved with the nonprofit for more than 20 years and has held such titles as administrative director, assistant director and, recently, co-director, prior to stepping fully into the executive director’s chair this month.

Krieger described herself as “honored” to lead SIFF and said her “goal is to continue to bring a world-class festival to small town like Sonoma.”

Krieger’s ascension is one of a small handful of SIFF organizational news as the nonprofit readies for its 26th festival next March. In July, the festival announced the hiring of its new artistic director, Carl Spence. Spence brings with him 28 years of film festival experience, having served as co-director and artistic director of the Seattle International Film Festival from 2003 to 2016, and then senior programmer for the Miami Film Festival from 2017 to 2022. Spence’s first day with SIFF was Aug. 1.

With Spence on board, former Artistic Director Kevin McNeely – who had served as executive director prior to his AD role — will transition to a role as director emeritus.

In an announcement of the various changes, McNeely predicted Krieger will guide the festival to “new heights.”

“Everyone knows Ginny has been my boss since day one and does all the heavy lifting,” said McNeely. “To have the SIFF board elect her as the executive director is very fitting.”

Krieger said that with Spence joining the team, the festival board of directors saw it as an opportunity for her to step into the executive director role to utilize her past management experience. Prior to relocating from Boston to Sonoma in 2001, Krieger held top positions with health, wellness, fitness and luxury services companies, according to the festival.

As executive director, Krieger said her primary focuses will be on “setting the tone for staff,” strategic planning and keeping a sharp eye on the festival budget. SIFF has about six full-time staff working throughout the year, in addition to the plethora of staff and volunteers whose activity ratchets up in the winter and spring as the festival draws near.

Though SIFF’s main event – typically a five-day soiree in March featuring dozens of features and shorts, food and wine events and a host of guest filmmakers – is still eight months away, the festival work is never done, said Krieger. This weekend, Aug. 4 to 6, the festival’s Summerfest showcases 10 new films at various venues in the Sonoma Valley, highlighted by the SIFF Screen & Cuisine, a food and film event Aug. 6 at Hanna Boys Center.

Not only that, said Krieger, but online film submissions open this week for the main festival in March.

Though she wasn’t in the film industry or involved in film festivals when she first moved to Sonoma, Krieger said joining the SIFF board more than two decades ago was an easy decision. “I’ve always had a fondness for film, even as a kid growing up,” Krieger said. “I realized when we moved here from the east coast that was something that I loved — and was a natural way to get involved in Sonoma.”

For information on upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival news and events, visit sonomafilmfest.org.

Email Jason Walsh at Jason.walsh@sonomanews.com.

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