British film industry veteran Leslie Hardcastle, former controller of the British Film Institute’s National Film Theatre, has died. He was 96.
Hardcastle was born in Croydon, South London, in 1926. He was born into an artistic family and spent time working in film production for British Lion Films before serving in the Navy.
After leaving the Navy, Hardcastle began work at the BFI, where, in his role, he was first responsible for acquiring film supplies for the BFI’s National Film Theatre on London’s Southbank. Hardcastle went on to lead operations of the NFT for many years including during the formation of the London Film Festival and the construction of NFT2, the BFI’s second onsite operational screen, alongside a new restaurant. He was in post from 1957 until the 1990s.
Hardcastle was also instrumental in the formation of the Museum of the Moving Image in London. The museum was located on London’s Southbank, a short distance from the BFI, and was dedicated to the history of cinema and filmmaking technology. The site was opened in September 1988 by Prince Charles but closed down temporarily in 1999 before shutting its doors for good in 2002.
After retiring in the 1990s, Hardcastle continued to work as a consultant for the BFI. He was later awarded an OBE for service to film, named a Fellow of the BFI, and awarded the BAFTA for lifetime achievement in 1989.
Remarking on the news this afternoon, Robin Baker, Head Curator at British Film Institute, said in a tweet: “Sad to hear of the death of Leslie Hardcastle. A man of many hats, he played a key role in the @BFI story. He ran the NFT (BFI Southbank); introduced the London Film Festival and NFT2 and devised the Museum of the Moving Image. Remarkable! Photo preserved by #BFINationalArchive.”
Away from cinema, Hardcastle was involved in numerous social organizations and societies. He was a founding member of the Soho Housing Association in central London and honorary president of the Soho Society, a community association for the London district of Soho.
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