Letter: Anthony Smith obituary

·1-min read

Maggie Brown’s obituary of Anthony Smith refers to his brilliance as a fundraiser. As deputy curator of the British Film Institute’s National Film Archive under Tony’s directorship in the 1980s, I witnessed at first-hand his determined, but respectful, wooing of the cinephile J Paul Getty Jr on behalf of the BFI.

The results of this included the construction of the archive’s JPGJ Conservation Centre in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, the refurbishment of the National Film theatre and the purchase of a new BFI HQ. He also recognised the value of cultural celebrity, and oversaw the creation of the BFI fellowships, the first of which were awarded to Orson Welles, David Lean, Marcel Carné, Satyajit Ray, and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger as part of its golden jubilee celebrations in 1983.

Tony was shrewd, pragmatic and fun to work with. He never pretended to be busy when he wasn’t and would readily ring down to one of us and suggest lunch because he didn’t “have anything else to do that day” – a disarming way of indicating that he had had a successful morning.

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