Lawrence Safir dies at 62

London native was indie film advocate

Lawrence Safir, a distribution executive and sales agent in the U.K. and a leading advocate for the independent film industry in Europe, died Aug. 5 in London after a long illness. He was 62.

From 1992-98, Safir served as vice chairman on the executive committee of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (then known as AFMA) and on its board of directors from 1998-02.

A native of London, Safir was the son of British film executive Sidney Safir. After beginning his film career in 1966 with Warner Bros. (Paris), Safir moved back to London, working first as an executive with Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors Ltd. and then with British Lion Film.

At British Lion, Safir worked on the distribution of "Born Free" (1966), Nicholas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" (1973) and a number of popular comedies by the Boulting brothers.

In 1977, following British Lion's merger with EMI, Safir and his father established Safir Films, one of the first independent sales agencies in London. It introduced to the international market such landmark Australian films as Gillian Armstrong's "My Brilliant Career" (1979), Bruce Beresford's " 'Breaker' Morant" (1980) and Philip Noyce's "Heatwave" (1982).

Beginning in 1993, Safir served as IFTA's European representative, first as chairman of AFMA Europe and then as vp of European affairs, the position he held at the time of death.