One of the most respected and competent cinema builders in Europe died on Monday Oct 8, when Nordic major Nordisk Film Biografer's vice president of Logistics, Steen S. Larsen, was among the passengers killed on board the SAS flight that tragically crashed in Milan.

Larsen had attended the IBTS Mediatech 2001 conference in Italy to look into possible new techniques for Nordisk Film Biografer, and was due to return to Copenhagen that morning. The 41 year-old Larsen was unmarried and had no children, but leaves a very large circle of friends and colleagues.

"Steen S. Larsen had worked for Nordisk Film Biografer for more than 20 years and was by virtue of his knowledge, international contacts, and driving ambition, a frontline figure in the development of the company," said John Tonnes, head of Nordisk Film Biografer.

"He put every professional effort into the task of strengthening the market position of the company's cinemas, [which were] recently consolidated as the competitive cinema group CinemaxX had to give up its projected foothold in Denmark. This was to a large extent Steen's achievement, a result of his untiring effort to raise the level of ambition as well as the standard of both picture and sound quality in Nordisk Film Biografer.

"The mark of professionalism left by Steen upon his projects was invariably in a league of its own. And add to that Steen's outstanding contribution to the company culture and working atmosphere. He was totally involved in his work. His colleagues would know with absolute certainty that Steen would go to any lengths to help them and they considered him one of their best friends."

Peter Dobson, vice president of international film relations for Warner Bros. International Theatres (WBIT), voiced the feelings of the exhibition community at the shock and tragedy of the news.

"In the early and mid-nineties I had dealings with Steen when WBIT were involved in a joint venture with Metronome. He was a most revered, but still genuine man at the very forefront of the Danish Film Industry. On a number of occasions since that time I have met with him and he was someone that always had an opinion and always in the interest of the film business. He will be sadly missed."