Leggat had served as executive director since October 2005 and told colleagues he was leaving due to his ongoing battle with cancer after years of “unalloyed pleasure”.
During his tenure the Society expanded into a year-round cultural organisation with enhanced exhibition, education and filmmaker services. Deputy director Steven Jenkins is named acting executive director until a long-term succession strategy is put in place.
Among the notable achievements during Leggat’s time were the launch of the country’s only daily independent regional online film magazine, residencies and project development services, integration of the filmmaker services programmes of Film Arts Foundation, the creation and expansion of SFFS’s annual autumn season slate of festivals and events and the recent announcement of the creation of the San Francisco Film Society | New People Cinema.
“For five years the inimitable and visionary Graham Leggat has led the Film Society with determination and aplomb,” Film Society board president Pat McBaine said. “His vision, passion, work ethic, tenacity, leadership, occasionally warped Scottish sense of humour, modesty, bravery and brilliance have indelibly marked this organization.
“Today the Film Society is in the best shape – artistically, organisationally 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.”
In a personal letter to Society members Leggat wrote: “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 organisation 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 organisation within a vitalising 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 organisation – 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.”