Heather Stewart, the long-time British Film Institute executive, will step down from her role as Creative Director at the organization in September 2021 and will take up a new position as BFI Director Emeritus.
In her new advisory role, she will continue to be an ambassador for the BFI, which awards public money to support UK film across the gamut of production, distribution, and exhibition. Going forward, she will focus on strategic archive development, worldwide fundraising and philanthropic engagement, and will also continue to contribute to the BFI’s cultural program as a guest curator, speaker and writer.
The org will be recruiting a replacement Creative Director in due course.
Stewart graduated from NYU Film School and started out at the BFI by handling the org’s first ever home entertainment release, paving the way for the BFI’s own DVD label. She has been in the role of Creative Director for a decade, overseeing the strategic leadership of the BFI’s cultural programs, with the collections of the BFI National Archive at their centre.
Figures paying tribute to Stewart’s tenure today include Martin Scorsese, Steve McQueen, Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, and BFI Chief Executive Ben Roberts.
Martin Scorsese, filmmaker said, “Heather has worked tirelessly to ensure the long term safety of the world class film collection held by the BFI National Archive. Through the outstanding preservation and restoration programme of the BFI, audiences across the world have the chance to rediscover and enjoy British film. We wish Heather well in the next phase.”
Steve McQueen, artist and filmmaker said, “Heather has made an amazing contribution to film culture in the UK, developing the BFI National Archive, the public programme at the National Film Theatre, in festivals, and online, and Sight & Sound. All are world class. Her sincere belief in public service, and making sure that everyone has a chance to engage with great film, has meant that literally millions of ordinary people across the UK have been able to enjoy their film history, and history as lived through film. I wish her well, and hope we will still work together in the future.”
Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas, filmmakers said “Heather’s incredible knowledge and love for film culture will be missed enormously. Her advocacy and hard work has meant that audiences today can enjoy real film, on the big screen, all around the world. It’s been a privilege to support Heather’s outstanding commitment to the art of film. We look forward to seeing what she does next.”
Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said, “We are indebted to Heather’s commitment to expanding our appreciation of cinema, her advocacy for the continued care and investment in the BFI National Archive and always challenging the status quo – within the BFI and across the cultural landscape. I have learnt an incalculable amount from Heather and I’m delighted that she will continue to support and advocate for the BFI in a role which recognizes her long contribution.”
“I love the BFI, and I’m very proud of what we have achieved. I inherited an incredible legacy to build on, and hope my successors will feel the same. All I ever want is for people to be able to expand their horizons by seeing great films,” added Stewart.