Keith Rodger named new AFI chair

Keith Rodger and Alan Finney at an AACTA screening of '3000 Years of Longing'. Palace Cinemas, Como, Toorak Rd, in September.

The Australian Film Institute (AFI) board will begin a new era under Keith Rodger after Alan Finney announced he would be stepping down from the position.

A board member since 2020, Rodger is known for producing AACTA president Russell Crowe’s 2014 war drama The Water Diviner and the upcoming Stan Original Poker Face. He is also one of three partners behind the development of major new film studios at Coffs Harbour alongside Crowe and Peter Montgomery.

He takes over from the longest-serving chair of the institute, with Finney having been appointed to the position in 2010.

The producer and distributor’s 12-year tenure has included the development and launch of the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts (AACTA) and the AACTA Awards; the relaunch and growth of AFI AACTA screen culture, education, and talent development programs; and the establishment of AFI AACTA’s global programs encompassing the AACTA Asia International Engagement Program over the past 5 years. 

In accepting his new role Rodger paid tribute to the outgoing chair, who is set to remain on the AFI board.

“Thank you Alan Finney for your incredible contribution to national industry programs over so long and I am honoured to be able to work with the AFI AACTA board, management, and our members to build on your legacy,” he said.

“Australia has an incredible base of talented screen professionals in front of and behind the camera and coupled with the invaluable support of federal and state governments, and ever greater innovation and global engagement opportunities, I look forward to driving inclusive and dynamic programs that enhance our screen industry’s unity, global relevance, education, growth, and impact.” 

Finney said he had full confidence in Rodger and the rest of the board to continue the progress of the institute.

“I look forward to continuing to be involved as an AFI director and serving our membership and industry however I can,” he said.

“I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me and offered their friendship to me as chair of the AFI over the journey across the last 12 years. It’s been an honour and a privilege to be able to serve in this capacity.”

Rodger will be supported by newly appointed AFI vice chair, Margaret Pomeranz, who has been a member of the AFI Board member since 2015, and has contributed to the screen industry for more than half a century.

The rest of the board comprises Noni Hazlehurst, Jennifer Huby, Jack Christian, Brian Walsh, and Darren Dale. It is supported by the AACTA management team and is lead by Crowe, vice president Nicole Kidman, patron George Miller, and ambassador Cate Blanchett.

Crowe was also full of praise for Finney, whom he described as “the godfather” of Australian cinema.

“Alan’s extraordinary energy in the 70s through to the 80’s solidified Australian cinema in the eyes of a global audience and led directly to a fresh explosion of attention in the 90s, to the solid pathways now available to Australian filmmakers,” he said.

“His contribution has been nothing short of amazing. 

“I have worked with Keith Rodger for 20+ years, and I know he’s the right person to take us through any challenges and opportunities that face us in the short-term and to long-term success beyond. Looking forward to building on the work done before and taking our organisation to an even stronger place.”

His sentiments were echoed AFI AACTA CEO Damian Trewhella who said Finney’s “constant willingness to share his time, energies, wisdom, and experience gained through his extensive industry career has been invaluable to AFI AACTA’s journey”. 

“It’s been an epic contribution over so long and it’s wonderful to have a succession plan including the talent, skills, and experience of incoming chair Keith Rodger and vice chair Margaret Pomeranz – thank you to you all”.