Graham Leggat, offering a wave to San Francisco International Film Festival audiences in 2011, transformed the San Francisco Film Society in a half decade.

Graham Leggat Steps Down as Executive Director of San Francisco Film Society

July 5, 2011

The San Francisco Film Society today announced that Graham Leggat, executive director since October 2005, has stepped down effective immediately due to health issues. Leggat ends a tenure at the Film Society that has marked a radical transformation for the organization, including key expansions to each of its three core areas of activity: exhibition, education and filmmaker services.

During the period of Leggat’s leadership, the Film Society has grown from the producer of the annual 15-day San Francisco International Film Festival into a year-round cultural institution celebrating film culture in all its forms, with its staff and annual operating budget each increasing threefold from 2005 to 2011. Historic developments under Leggat’s direction include the launch of the country’s only daily independent regional online film magazine,, in 2006; integration of the filmmaker services programs of Film Arts Foundation in 2008, which have since grown into a rich array of grants (totaling more than $3 million), residencies and project development services; the creation and expansion of SFFS’s annual Fall Season slate of festivals and events, which this year includes seven themed-film series between September and November; and the recent announcement of the creation of the San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema, which provides year-round theatrical home for the organization’s myriad activities for the first time in its 54-year history.

“For five years the inimitable and visionary Graham Leggat has led the Film Society with determination and aplomb,” said Pat McBaine, president of the Film Society’s board of directors. “His vision, passion, work ethic, tenacity, leadership, occasionally warped Scottish sense of humor, modesty and bravery have indelibly marked this organization. Today the Film Society is in the best shape—artistically, organizationally and financially—in its history. Graham leaves SFFS in the care of the terrific staff, led by Acting Executive Director Steven Jenkins, that he hired, inspired and empowered. We’re all determined and prepared to pursue his vision.”

As Leggat stated today in a personal letter announcing his resignation to Film Society constituents:

“It has been my unalloyed pleasure and honor to serve as Executive Director since October 2005. I have relished my leadership role in this dynamic, beloved organization. Unfortunately, health issues make it impossible for me to continue to serve effectively, and I am stepping down to leave the organization in the capable hands of a remarkably devoted staff and Board of Directors.

As I bid the Film Society farewell, I am fully confident that the vision we have forged together of a peerless and vibrant film organization within a vitalizing film culture will continue to thrive and inspire. In these past six years the Film Society has risen to new, previously unimaginable heights, and I am truly thrilled by the conviction that the organization—now at an all-time high programmatically, financially and as an agent of civic and cultural change—has its very best years still to come.

Let’s look ahead together, then, to a bright future, as I offer my sincerest gratitude once again for the amazing opportunities that the Film Society and all of you have given me.”

Deputy Director Steven Jenkins will assume leadership of the Film Society as acting executive director while the staff and board of directors consider long-term leadership strategies in the coming months. Steve is familiar with this role, having stepped up several times in the past 15 months, as Graham has fought a disease first diagnosed in March 2010.