Graham Leggat, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society, presenter of the prestigious San Francisco International Film Festival, died Thursday at his San Francisco home after an 18-month battle with cancer.
Leggat, 51, who was at the helm of the society since 2005, was known for his strategic planning that dramatically increased the group’s membership, services and reputation.
Film society members called his vision and enlightened leadership instrumental for the success of the film festival’s 50th anniversary celebration and activities in 2007.
Pat McBaine, president of the society’s board of directors, said, “His vision, leadership, passion, work ethic, tenacity, imagination and daring along with his colorful language and wicked Scottish sense of humor have indelibly marked our organization with a valuable legacy and left it in the best shape — artistically, organizationally and financially — in its 54-year history. ... Our board and staff are deeply saddened by the loss of our leader, colleague and friend but inspired by his example and memory to carry on his work and build on his accomplishments and vision.”
In addition to the festival, which hosted luminaries such as Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Duvall, Roger Ebert, Werner Herzog, Spike Lee and Errol Morris, Leggat’s efforts resulted in increased year-round programming, a new state-of-the art theater in Japantown, expanded education and services for filmmakers and the establishment of a regional online daily film magazine.
When he resigned from the job in July, citing health issues, Leggat wrote, “I am fully confident that the vision we have forged together of a peerless and vibrant film culture will continue to thrive and inspire. I extend my deeply felt thanks for your support of these efforts, and for making me feel so supported and encouraged. Not only have I loved this job but ... I have felt like this job has loved me in return (something I’ve never heard anyone even say before, let alone experience).”