Colin, good to see you. It is what it is here right now, several of the usual stalwarts are in "ebb" mode. I have been out of pocket for awhile as well.
I certainly agree that this is a more interesting lineup than in past years. And in the long run it doesn't matter, because once one is established in film programming and the audience is willing to go with what you bring to the dance, you really have to eff it up before you've got any real problems to contend with.
But remember that there is like one film out of twelve here that isn't moderately well-known. Certainly there will be 30-50% of the audience who won't have seen any given film in the lineup, but you have a great deal more predictability here than would be the case in what we've been specializing in over the past few years, with festivals of comparable length where 95%+ of the audience has not only not seen the film, but hasn't even heard of it!
So I would agree that we are grading on a tougher curve...I just think there are ways to optimize these immersive festivals that would make PS into something as interesting as was the case when Lyons was alive. The festival is more successful, but less adventurous. This is a couple of steps in the right direction to be sure.
The other thing is that a 10-1-4-7:30 format as used in PS minimizes focus or emphasis on double features, which is still (to my mind at least) the "gold standard" for rep programming. My observations stem from having watched some talented folks do that kind of rep work for some time now, and holding everyone else to the level of achieve attained by those who do it best.
That's the type of talent that gets written up in the newspapers--which happened to someone like Elliot Lavine regularly. Whereas someone like Eddie gets written up for his knowledge of noir, his showmanship--but not for his programming per se.