Rebecca Fons, a Winterset High School graduate of 2000, has been named Programming Director at Iowa City’s art house cinema, FilmScene.
Fons is known to many in Winterset for spearheading the renovation of the community’s local single-screen theater, “The Iowa,” which reopened in May.
Prior to that project, Rebecca was Education Director at the Chicago International Film Festival, working at CIFF for almost nine years. While there, she developed its Education Program to include yearly screenings that welcomed over 10,000 Chicago Public School students to the movies each year.
She also encouraged young, future filmmakers through initiatives like the festival’s Student Film Council and the CineYouth Festival.
Fons earned a BA in cinema and comparative literature studies from the University of Iowa, graduating in 2004. She later received a Masters degree in arts management from Columbia College Chicago. She’s a member of Chicago’s Gene Siskel Film Center’s Community Council and an Associate Member of the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago.
During the almost two-year rehabilitation of Winterset’s Iowa Theater, she commuted from her home in Chicago as needed to oversee the build-out, set up of the business, and reopening of “The Iowa,” now a 501c3 nonprofit – spending weeks (sometimes months) at a time in her hometown.
To fulfill her new duties at FilmScene, she’ll now commute from Chicago to Iowa City, and as needed to Winterset, to guide the local theater through its first full year of operation. Fons plans to step back into the role of board member only some time in 2018.
At FilmScene, she will direct the art house theater’s lineup of American independent films, foreign films, and documentaries while building new initiatives to expand FilmScene’s community of movie lovers.
Commenting on her new job, Fons said she “fell in love with movies as a kid growing up in Winterset, sitting in the Iowa Theater, then got formal training in Iowa City before I began my professional career in Chicago, so returning to my roots is a true honor and professional pleasure, worth the occasional commute!”
She also said she was “beyond proud to be joining the dedicated FilmScene team and continuing to focus my efforts on the Iowa film community. I’ll still be in Chicago and Winterset regularly, and look forward to returning to the University of Iowa main library to find the best places to take naps, just like I did when I was 20.”
Her husband, Chicagoan Jack C. Newell, is a filmmaker whose documentary “42 Grams” has just been optioned by Netflix. He directs the film department at Second City, Chicago’s famous comedy club, comedy theater and school of improvisation.