Gene Siskel Film Center to honor Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin

Jean de St. Aubin

After 20 remarkable years, Gene Siskel Film Center Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin will resign this winter; her last day at the Film Center will be February 15.

The Film Center will honor Jean’s impact and leadership, toast to her next chapter, and celebrate her love of the movies with one of her favorite films, Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator on 35mm (this title, by the way, is in no way a reflection on Jean’s own leadership style!) The film will be prefaced and followed by video tributes to Jean as well as a post-screening reception with champagne, pretzels (her favorite snack), and more.

Tickets are on sale here. All ticket proceeds benefit the Film Center.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center will present A Toast to Jean, celebrating the nearly 20-year tenure of the Film Center’s Executive Director Jean de St. Aubin, on Sunday, January 29 at 6pm

Martin Berger, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, said, “The Gene Siskel Film Center is a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and serving the public has always been a priority for Jean. She’s consistently found innovative ways to provide patrons with an unparalleled movie-going experience, both at the Film Center’s state-of-the-art theaters and in communities throughout Chicago, where she’s partnered to provide curated programming. With the creation of the Black Harvest Community Council and programs including Cine Latine and Best of Black Harvest, Jean has grown the Film Center’s audience and helped ensure that the Film Center is a welcoming, inclusive space responsive to and reflective of Chicago’s diverse communities. Jean has been a dedicated steward of the Film Center for two decades and will be greatly missed.”

Ellen Sandor, Chair of the Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board said, “As the Advisory Board Chair, it has been my pleasure to work alongside Jean for two decades. Under Jean’s leadership, the Film Center has become more accessible, welcoming, and diverse. Jean and I and members of our extraordinary board have had decades of unforgettable adventures together. We are grateful for Jean’s outstanding leadership and hard work and wish her the very best.”

“My commitment to and love of our film community is why I wanted a public event to celebrate my time at the Film Center,” said de St. Aubin. 

In her November 11 announcement to Film Center Advisory Board members and patrons, de St. Aubin wrote, “I am so grateful for the last two decades I’ve spent at the Film Center, and I would like to extend my deepest gratitude and admiration for the talented and dedicated Film Center staff. I have also been fortunate to have such a supportive, involved, and dedicated Advisory Board. It’s been my honor to foster conversations with filmmakers from all over the world, establish the Film Center as a thriving part of Chicago’s cultural community, and champion the art of cinema alongside the wonderful GSFC team. 

I am most proud that our audience and advisory board have become more diverse and now more than ever reflect our diverse programming. Also, in the past 20 years the Film Center has become more accessible and welcoming through our strategic partnerships and targeted community outreach.

I have so enjoyed getting to know so many of you, our film-loving community. You make the Film Center the lively, interesting, and vibrant cultural home that it is. I look forward to joining your ranks as a patron of the Gene Siskel Film Center. With the 50th Anniversary year coming to a close and the transition of artistic leadership complete, I am leaving the Film Center with a clear artistic vision and a growing audience base that is both younger and more diverse. As both myself and the institution adjust to these coming changes, I can still promise: I’ll see you at the movies.”

A national search to refill de St. Aubin’s position begins this month. 

School of the Art Institute of Chicago Associate Provost Amelia Noël-Elkins will serve as the Interim Executive Director of the Film Center after Jean’s departure in mid-February, until a new permanent director is hired.

Noël-Elkins will work closely with Rebecca Fons, Director of Programming, and Film Center staff during the search for a new executive director.

About the Film Screening:

Sunday, January 29 at 6pm
1940, Charles Chaplin, USA, 125 mins
In English and Latin with English subtitles | Format: 35mm

“It is a funny film, which we expect from Chaplin, and a brave one.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

This prescient masterpiece was Chaplin’s first pure talkie, wherein he plays two roles: the cruel, bafoonish Hynkel, dictator of the fictitious “Tomania”; and the kind Jewish barber, who bears his uncanny resemblance. Mistaken identity is the backdrop for this slapstick farce that delivers as many laughs as it does a timely message, delivered in Chaplin’s famous speech about the horrors of war and the power of peace.

The film will be followed by a video tribute to Jean and a post-screening reception with champagne, pretzels, and more. All ticket proceeds will benefit the Film Center.

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