Heather Stewart, a hugely respected film British Film Institute veteran who has helped transform the BFI National Archive into a world-leading film preservation facility, is to step down from her current role as creative director after 30 years at the organization.
Stewart, who steps down in September, will take on a new ambassadorial and advisory position as BFI director emeritus, with a focus on strategic archive development and fundraising and will continue to work as a guest curator, speaker and writer.
“I love the BFI, and I’m very proud of what we have achieved,” said Stewart. “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.”
Among those paying tribute to Stewart were filmmaking icons Martin Scorsese, Steve McQueen and Christopher Nolan.
“Heather has worked tirelessly to ensure the long-term safety of the world-class film collection held by the BFI National Archive,” said Scorsese. “Through the outstanding preservation and restoration program of the BFI, audiences across the world have the chance to rediscover and enjoy British film. We wish Heather well in the next phase.”
McQueen said that Stewart had made an “amazing contribution” to film culture in the U.K. through her work developing the archive, the public program at the National Film Theatre, and the BFI’s 88-year-old magazine Sight & Sound.
“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 U.K. have been able to enjoy their film history, and history as lived through film,” he said.
Added Nolan and his producing partner Emma Thomas: “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.”