Monday, January 25, 2021

Coronado Island Film Festival Appoints New Executive Director Merridee Book

Coronado Island Film Festival, now entering its fifth year of operations and presenting its fourth film festival this November, has appointed Merridee Book as Executive Director, it was announced by Kris Grant, board president.

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Book comes to the festival with an extensive background in arts development and administration.

Most recently, Book was Vice President of Development at San Diego Film Foundation, the nonprofit corporation that presents the annual San Diego International Film Festival. There, she revised and expanded the festival’s giving strategy for individual and corporate donors. She managed donor events including securing event chairs for signature fundraisers including the annual Oscar party and the Variety Night of the Stars Tribute (past honorees included Annette Bening, Geena Davis, Judd Apatow, and Michael B. Jordon).

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Concurrently, she served on the board of directors of Balboa Park’s Patrons of the Prado from May 2015 through May 2018 and was the Patron’s Masterpiece Gala Chair in 2018, charged with raising unrestricted funds for the park’s museums and institutions.

In Coronado, Book served on the Coronado Arts Education Foundation Board of Directors (2011-2013 and 2015-2016). She was the Gala Chair for the Coronado School of the Arts (CoSA) galas in 2013, 2014 and 2016, the 20th anniversary celebration.

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Earlier, Book founded a multi-media company (recording, publishing, online and television) in San Francisco, where she produced and hosted a weekly online TV talk show, interviewing designers, authors, filmmakers, producers, inspirational speakers, actors, and musicians.

Book holds a Bachelor of Science in communication with an emphasis on marketing and film from University of California, Santa Barbara.

“We are pleased to welcome Merridee to this newly created position,” said Grant. “She brings a background in film festival marketing, brand development and fundraising. Her experience is ideally coupled with an appreciation for, and deep knowledge base of, Coronado.”

Book will assume much of the responsibilities previously held by Doug St. Denis, who now assumes the title of Founder and Chairman. “Instead of working 80 hours a week for the festival, Doug will probably only work 40 now,” Grant quipped.

Andy Friedenberg begins his fourth year with the festival team, serving as Artistic Director.

The 2019 festival will be held Nov. 8 – 11, and plans are well underway to bring in quality films, celebrities, panels, free educational workshops and parties. The festival also continues to present its monthly Classic Movie series at the Village Theatre.

Last year’s festival secured five pre-release films, including its opening night film, Green Book, which received the Academy Award for Best Picture. Other San Diego County debuts included Widows, The Favourite, Studio 54 and Roma.

“This is an amazing success for a festival in year three,” said Book. “And it’s evidence of the dedication of its founder, Doug St. Denis, its director of programming Andy Friedenberg, a hard-working board of directors and an amazing volunteer crew.”

Book said she plans to work with the board on formulating goals to expand the festival’s year-round programming and educational offerings, grow a strong industry presence, and develop ever more impactful community-wide engagements.

“I am honored and excited to step into this new role, filling the big shoes (heels) worn by Doug,” Book said. “And I’m keen to build upon the achievements of the festival and bring a clear vision and execution to future endeavors.

“Cheers to an incredible year ahead!”


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Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is thrilled to call Coronado home and raise her two children here. In her free time enjoys hitting the gym, reading, and walking her dog around the “island.” Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: